Two of the best QBs in the SEC will go head-to-head in Columbia, Missouri on Saturday as Drew Lock and Jake Bentley will lead out their offenses. While Bentley helped steer the Gamecocks to a win over NC State in Charlotte, Lock broke records en-route to scoring 72 points in their opener against Missouri State. The pair should make for an entertaining watch.
Head Coach: Barry Odom. Second season (5-8).
2016 Record: 4-8 (2-6).
Last Week: 72-43 win against Missouri State (FCS).
Offensive playmaker: QB Drew Lock
Top Defender: DE Marcell Frazier
Weakness: Run defense
Things are looking up in Missouri at the moment. After starting 2-7 in Odom’s first year, the Tigers won two of their final three, defeating Vanderbilt and Arkansas, to finish 4-8. They brought back most of their offense and plenty of young talent saw the field for he defense. The offense lit up FCS foe Missouri State but their defense struggled mightily wacky games from the weekend. While Lock threw for 512 yards and seven touchdown passes, Missouri State tailback Calen Crowder ran for 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns on only 11 carries. Fixing the run defense was priority number one for Odom in the off-season but it appears it will take some time.
This also is the conference opener for both teams and the SEC as a whole - a game that sets the tone for the conference season. With the east wide open this year, the winner of this contest will be the only team 1-0 in the standings. That would provide a boost to either winner once conference play heats up around the league.
The Tiger offense is loaded at the skill positions. Tailback Damarea Crockett will lead the RB unit; he ran for 202 and two scores last week. J’Mon Moore and Johnathon Johnson spread the field at wide-out. Both found the endzone twice last week. Lock likes to spread the ball around as Johnson lead the team with five catches while five more Tigers caught at least two passes.
While the offense got off to a fast start, the defense gave up nearly 500 yards of offense last week. One of the problems the offense created was that the Tigers defense was on the field for 38:16 of game time. Missouri State’s Crowder ran for 11.3 yards per carry on the Tiger defense while WR Malik Earl caught eight passes for 163 and a score. The one thing Missouri did manage was to pressure the QB, sacking Missouri State QB Peyton Huslig four times.
The Mizzou front, led by Frazier, can get to the QB. Carolina should be able to get the ground game going as once the RBs get back the front, they can have their way with the rest of the defense. This would be a great game to get Rico Dowdle and Ty’Son Williams going, keeping Lock and company on the bench.