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South Carolina vs. Missouri: Game Balls

The losses continue, but morale is a bit up because of a few guys

NCAA Football: Missouri at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The Gamecocks dropped another one last Saturday night to Missouri, but I came out of it feeling... good? That’s something I haven’t been able to say all season.

After Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu, among others, left the program, many thought the defense would suffer, but I truthfully thought things couldn’t get much worse on that side of the ball. So, I believed getting them out of the building wouldn’t mean too much.

Also, *whispering* they haven’t been that good.

Mukuamu had trouble staying on the field because of injury and Horn was getting burned left and right with the exception being the Auburn game that thrust him into the national spotlight.

I thought this game showed big improvement defensively, which was undoubtedly the biggest concern coming out of Ole Miss, and is something to build off of for the last two games of the year and beyond.

Then there’s the offense.

The first half was the same old product that we’ve been used to seeing, but when it was the Luke Doty show to start the second half, everything changed.

There were five drives. Two of them were sabotaged by holding penalties, two of them resulted in points and the last one — to end the game — looked promising but ended in a Doty interception.

The man extended plays, was a dual-threat with his legs and he even made most, although not all, the throws he was asked to make.

He had Missouri’s defense on their toes, and that was a sight that made me feel very hopeful going into next week’s game against Georgia.

You know where one game ball’s going, but it’s time to reveal the rest.

Offensive Game Ball: Luke Doty

Simply going off the eye test, the offense under Collin Hill looked bland and ineffective in comparison to how it looked with Doty.

Completing 14 of 23 passes for 130 yards and a pick doesn’t pop out at you, but anyone watching the game could tell the offense was moving much more with Doty at the helm.

The big thing that he brought to the offense was his legs, even outrushing Kevin Harris with 59 yards on a healthy 5.4 yards per carry.

And, well, he put points on the board, something Hill couldn’t accomplish when he led the offense in the first half.

He also deserves credit for what he did without having Shi Smith at his disposal.

Hopefully he’ll remain the starter, but we’ve seen the coaching staff botch these kinds of decisions before.

Defensive Game Ball: Cam Smith

Cam Smith had big shoes to fill this week, and I thought he had a good response to his promotion on the depth chart.

Listen, I know he was the guy who gave up the passing touchdown, but on that play, it was an instance of a ball being placed exactly where it needed to be, and he couldn’t do anything about it.

In general, Connor Bazelak didn’t have an easy time throwing the ball, especially in the second half where it was punts all around for Missouri, and I thought Smith was part of the reason for their struggles.

He also had that big pick at the end of the second quarter when the Tigers were knocking on the door, which did a good job of shifting the tide a little bit when the Gamecocks really needed it.

Hopefully he won’t regress next week, but I thought Smith had a game big enough to recognize.

Honorable Mentions: Nick Muse

It’s no secret that his 2020 season has been one to forget, plagued with drops and miscues, but he and Doty quickly formed a chemistry that was huge for South Carolina in the second half.

Does Doty simply throw a better ball? I don’t know, but the results speak for themselves.

Anyway, he led the team in receiving with 67 yards on six receptions and had two important grabs on the team’s potential game-winning drive.

When Doty looked his way, Muse was there to cash in.

It just felt good knowing that when Shi Smith was out of the game, Muse was able to step up and the offensive production didn’t leave with him.