Remember that magical night when Connor Shaw led us back to a double overtime victory over Missouri? Unforgettable, right? It’s crazy to think just how much, not only South Carolina’s program has changed, but also Missouri’s has since that night.
Today, we’re left looking at two programs in their first year under new head coaches possibly heading in opposite directions. Missouri is currently riding a four game losing streak, sitting at 2-6 and last in the East with no real answers in sight. If not for Jake Bentley, the Gamecocks could be in the same spot. But, fortunately enough, it looks as though Will Muschamp and South Carolina have found their answer and a new face of their program.
As for Saturday’s matchup in Williams-Brice, here’s some ideas on how to reverse the fortune and get the Mayor’s Cup back in the real Columbia.
Three Keys to the Game:
- Keep on running. Rico Dowdle looks to be real deal Gamecocks fans have been searching for. After a 127 yard, 1 touchdown, 27 carry performance against Tennessee last week, Dowdle seems poised to take over the bulk of South Carolina’s rushing attack. Couple his breakout game with the fact that Missouri just gave up 388 yards on the ground against Kentucky and that David Williams and A.J. Turner aren’t ready to give up all the carries for the South Carolina offense, I wouldn’t be upset with a heavy dose of handoffs Saturday afternoon.
- Pass protect. I feel like we’ve been waiting all season for this South Carolina offensive line unit to get it’s act together for four quarters. While yes, they had their hands full against Derek Barnett and the Volunteer d-line last weekend, they can’t get accustomed to giving up 6+ sacks an outing. As remarkable as Bentley has been for South Carolina thus far, he’s still a raw true freshman. Defenses are going to catch up to him at some point, so why not give him the best protection you can. The Tigers sit in the bottom of the nation in total sacks in 2016, only allotting 11 so far. If we don’t see much improvement from the Gamecocks o-line this weekend, there may be no hope left for them this year.
- INT. Jamarcus King is quickly turning into a ball hawking, shut down cornerback for the South Carolina secondary, with two more interceptions off Josh Dobbs last weekend. The Missouri run game proved ineffective last week and left sophomore QB Drew Lock with some unwanted second and third and long positions where he was forced into obvious passing plays. If South Carolina can back him into that same corner, the secondary will be able to stay aggressive and hunt for the takeaway. Turnovers have been key in the Gamecocks bend, but don’t break defense, so there’s no point in stopping now.
Missouri fans can’t front. Their football team is in a bad spot right now. Two weeks ago, they lost to Middle Tennessee St. at home. Barry Odom’s first year at the helm isn’t going as planned, so let’s keep it that way.
Since Missouri joined the conference, this one has been played close for the most part. Given both teams are young and are still working out the kinks eight games in, expect some sloppy play.
As long as the Gamecocks have remained focused and humbled through preparations this week after their upset victory, I like them to continue riding the momentum Jake Bentley’s brought to the team since taking over at quarterback.
South Carolina 28 - Missouri 17