On Saturday evening, Missouri football will debut its 2017 SEC schedule, in a home game against South Carolina, as the Tigers try to remain undefeated.
Before this game kicks off, we had a chance to sit down with “Garnet and Cocky” site expert, Tristan Dixon. We exchanged questions, and received some solid insight from lifetime South Carolina fan.
Last week, the Missouri Tigers exchanged blows with the Missouri State Bears, in what Tigers fans have been calling a defensive nightmare. If the Tigers’ coaching staff has the defense ready to go for its SEC tilt against Carolina, then we should see an improved showing for Mizzou.
On offense, the Tigers looked unstoppable, which is an easier feat against a non-conference, FCS opponent. However, the Bears went head-to-head against Mizzou’s juggernaut offense for a solid three quarters.
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Truman’s Tales (TT): After allowing NC State to gain 504 total yards on offense, South Carolina will go to Columbia-West, where Missouri has the best quarterback in the SEC, a 1,000-yard receiver, and a 1,000-yard running back. What area will South Carolina primarily focus on to defend? If Missouri wants to take the win, how do the Tigers beat South Carolina on offense?
Garnet and Cocky (G&C): The Gamecocks will defend the pass first, as much as they can, with the talent they have.
With solid linebackers like Skai Moore and Bryson Allen-Williams, I feel like Carolina has the ability to shut down a team’s run game.
If the Tigers want to win, I know of two things that I seem to upset the Gamecocks defense, shown by NC State: Missouri should throw the ball quick.
South Carolina plays off the ball, and NC State showed that quick outside passes or quick slants are there for the taking all day against this Gamecocks’ defense. That will exhaust the defense, and then Missouri can pound the ball running to close the game out.
The second thing Missouri should do, is attack cornerback Jamarcus King. King started last season showing a lot of talent, but that talent seems like it got stuck in Death Valley (Clemson, SC) last year, after Clemson’s Mike Williams destroyed him. Throwing to King’s side of the field, I can guarantee there will be more opportunity than not for a big play against our defense.
TT: Hypothetical situation; late in the fourth quarter, Missouri leads by four (42-38) in a close game. South Carolina has the ball at the Missouri 25, but has no timeouts. With 60 seconds remaining, how do the Gamecocks get to the endzone to seal the win? Are you confident in their ability on offense?
G&C: In this situation, I think South Carolina sets up in the shot gun with Rico Dowdle lined up beside quarterback Jake Bentley.
Bentley is great at checking down his receivers, and with Hayden Hurst running across the middle of the field, Rico running out for a pass and Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards running down the field, Bentley will have more than enough weapons to throw to. Bentley can also tuck the ball and run, if need be, and I am very confident in them making their way down the field to score in any situation.
TT: Do you think Jake Bentley is the best quarterback in the SEC? Who are South Carolina’s biggest play makers on defense? How do you think Bentley and Lock rate against each other?
G&C: I do think Bentley is the best. By statistics last year, Lock was a lot better, but Bentley was a true freshman QB who was supposed to be in high school.
Bentley also got his first start at the half mark of the season, last year. Bentley and Lock, in my opinion, are top-three quarterbacks in the SEC. I have it Bentley, Lock and then Jalen Hurts, of Alabama.
TT: What weaknesses do you see in the Tigers’ defense that Jake Bentley and company will exploit?
G&C: The biggest weakness I see in the Tigers’ defense, is the secondary. Giving up 353 yards to Missouri State, I see a lot of weak spots that Bentley and his arsenal of weapons can exploit.
TT: Which team do you think finishes with the better overall record this year, and which quarterback do you think will have the better season statistically?
G&C: I have the Gamecocks finishing the season 9-3; I have Missouri finishing the season 5-7. I think Bentley will continue to show why so many analysts consider him one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC and continues to prove why he will be a future NFL draft pick. I think Lock will have a similar season statistically as last year, and I think Bentley will finish the season with about 3700 yards passing.
We’ll see how that all pans out on Saturday, but I have my doubts that South Carolina will come away from this contest with a “W.” Both teams match-up similarly, but Missouri has a little more experience on offense than South Carolina.