Two weeks an underdog, two weeks and the South Carolina Gamecocks are still unbeaten.
After dropping 72 points last week, the Missouri offense was held to just 13 — three in the second half — as South Carolina controlled the second half to win 31-13 in the other Columbia. After some public concerns over the defense last week, South Carolina appears to have answered some questions in regards to those fan qualms.
Through a two game sample, South Carolina can now claim wins over what seem to be two quality teams away from the friendly confides of Williams-Brice Stadium. During the preseason this two game stretch could have easily been picked to go 0-2, but now South Carolina heads into their first home game against Kentucky 2-0 for the first time since 2012.
Yet again, total yardage is a lie
Last week we touched on how not to be fooled by total yardage, so again we see an example of how total yards is a poor indicator of team performance. South Carolina was out gained by an opponent and won — this time by three scores.
Missouri’s offense actually averaged a whole yard per play better (6.1) than NC State did last week (5.1) yet managed half the points. Credit a lot of yardage inbetween the 20’s for the Tigers but nothing doing once they reached the redzone. Bend-don’t-break defense may not be good for your heart rate, but for South Carolina it’s worked two weeks in a row.
So long as the Gamecocks can keep their offense on track and continue benefiting from turnovers, this style of defense can work. Even as you’d like to see a little more from the run defense, over all Saturday was a quality showing.
Deebo is a dude
I held off on singing Deebo Samuel’s praises last week, but how can you not be starry-eyed when watching him play? He single handedly pulled momentum back in the Gamecocks favor, prompting Rock-M-Nation to tweet the following:
Mizzou 10, One Guy 14— ROCK M NATION (@RockMNation) September 10, 2017
For the second week in a row Samuel returns a kickoff for a touchdown and then follows it up with one of his signature fly sweeps to pull South Carolina back ahead 14-10. It all happened in three plays too: One kick return, one interception and one run. I haven’t had a swing in emotions like that in quite some time.
The bad side to this is he’s probably declaring for the draft if he keeps this up all season, but that’s the nature of the beast that is college football. Let’s enjoy him while we have him, because I love yelling “DEEEEEEEEEBOOOOO” way too much.
Jamyest coming into his own
Jamyest Williams was the crown jewel of the 2017 recruiting class, yet his first game against NC State was filled with ups and downs — more downs in the first half. Williams was expected to play a very important nickel position coming into the season and this week really showed off his talents.
Williams came up with some big plays Saturday night that would make a huge difference in the outcome of the game. His first career interception came when jumped the route on a pass to set up the touchdown by Samuel, then on Missori’s final play of the game he ripped away a potential touchdown to force a turnovers on down.
Williams will continue to be a key part of the Gamecocks secondary going forward and may just be an All-Conference player by the time he’d done in Columbia. It was good to see him bounce back after last week.
Poor Malik Young
Over the summer we ran a “Top-five most important players” piece and Malik Young was No. 2 on that list because he was going to be tasked with blocking Jake Bentley’s blindside. Safe to say Saturday was not his best game.
Young was called for holding twice and struggled mightily against Missouri’s left side. Granted, OC Kurt Roper didn’t use Hayden Hurst as much in pass protection to help Young out but the point remains left tackle was not a strength Saturday. Young can’t depend on Hurst all the time to help him out on that side.
Considering we’re only two games into the season, it’s not out of the question that left tackle goes back up for grabs if Young continues to struggle unassisted. But for now it’s his job and he’ll have to block better next week against Kentucky.
Ty’son the answer?
Through the past two games the absence of the South Carolina run game has been a bit of a head scratcher, but in the second half Saturday things livened up just enough to make a difference — specifically when Ty’son Williams was in the game.
Williams’ 32-yard run in the fourth quarter set up Hurst’s touchdown run to seal the game for South Carolina. Rico Dowdle has his moments, but Williams seemed to have the easiest time finding creases to get good carries. Dowdle was the starter headed into the season, but I’d expect us to see a lot more Williams going forward.
Nevertheless, it was nice to see the running game have a little more life Saturday. It’s still not great, but there was at least week-to-week improvement you can hang your hat on.