The South Carolina Gamecocks got back in the win column with their third straight victory over the Missouri Tigers on Saturday in Columbia. Let’s take a minute to recognize the top performers from what was one of the crazier games South Carolina has played in recent memory.
Placekicker Parker White
Man, what a turnaround it’s been for this guy. Last season, field goal attempts were a nerve-wracking and frustrating experience for Gamecocks fans, as White went 14-of-25 for just a 56 percent hit rate and missed most of his attempts beyond 40 yards or so. This season, White has been more consistent, with his only miss so far coming against Kentucky. Versus Missouri, White was a perfect 3-for-3, nailing a pair of 42-yarders — one of which was in driving rain — and then drilling the game-winning 33-yard score. The Gamecocks really needed the kicking game to improve, and South Carolina’s staff has had unwavering loyalty to White throughout his struggles. Hopefully the light bulb has finally come on.
Quarterback Michael Scarnecchia
Let’s just go ahead and be honest here: Even the most diehard, optimistic Gamecocks fans were probably worried about Scarnecchia getting his first start in relief of the injured Jake Bentley, even if they didn’t want to admit it. Originally a Steve Spurrier recruit, Scarnecchia has been with the program since 2014, but had seen only a handful of snaps in garbage time and against lesser opponents. However, you wouldn’t have known it based on his performance against Missouri: Scarnecchia went 20-of-35 for 249 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, ably spreading the ball around to Deebo Samuel, Bryan Edwards, Shi Smith, and even getting Kyle Markway involved. Perhaps most impressive was his confidence and composure, especially when he guided the Gamecocks down the field in just 1 minute, 16 seconds to secure the game-winning field goal attempt. (He also ate a peanut butter sandwich he’d brought along during the weather delay, which feels important to mention here.) Scarnecchia came off the bench in a big, big way, and certainly gave fans (and possibly the coaching staff) food for thought.
Defensive back Jaycee Horn
The coaches raved about the true freshman cornerback throughout fall camp, and five games into the season, it’s easy to see why. A Day 1 starter, Horn has already made a name for himself within the Gamecocks’ secondary, bringing stability and big play potential to a unit that was expected to be a weakness. Horn logged three tackles and broke up four passes against Missouri, one of them a critical play in the end zone, and did so cleanly without incurring interference penalties. Horn seems to have a nose for the ball and could be starting a special career at South Carolina.