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Missouri Q&A: Five things to know about South Carolina’s opponent

Five Things to Know: Mizzou v. South Carolina

Here are five things to know before the Missouri Tigers travel to Columbia, SC to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks.
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Here are five things to know before the Missouri Tigers travel to Columbia, SC to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Alex Schiffer, the Missouri beat writer for The Kansas City Star, took time this week to answer a few of our questions about the Tigers as they prepare for Saturday’s game with South Carolina.

Kickoff is set for noon at Williams-Brice Stadium on SEC Network.

1. Missouri was last seen giving a respectable effort in a home loss to Georgia. At 3-1 overall and with seven conference games to play, where do you rank the Tigers in the SEC East?

I think they’re in the conversation for the third best team in the East along with South Carolina. Kentucky appears to be the No. 2 team behind Georgia, and Florida lacks the offensive weapons that Missouri and the Gamecocks have.

2. Drew Lock made his first career start against South Carolina in 2015. Four years later, he’s rising NFL Draft boards, but Mizzou is still seeking its first season of eight wins or more with Lock as a QB. How do Missouri fans feel about Lock’s career to this point?

Good question. I think he’s definitely a fan favorite given his school pride and family heritage with the program, but the fact is he’s yet to beat a winning team.

An NFL scout recently told me that this three-game stretch against Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama will heavily influence his NFL Draft stock. He was so-so against Georgia and Alabama is ... well, Alabama. I think he has to have a good game on Saturday. If he doesn’t beat a winning team in his career, I think he’ll go down a little mediocre in fans eyes.

3. Aside from Lock and the passing game, what are areas of strength for this Mizzou team?

The entire offense, honestly. They have two NFL tight ends in Albert Okwuegbunam and Kendall Blanton, three solid backs in Damarea Crockett, Tyler Badie and Larry Rountree and a decent receiving corps. Emanuel Hall is a deep threat but he was banged up against Georgia. They need him healthy to really be able to scare teams.

Jalen Knox is a true freshman who had a good game against Purdue, but didn’t do much against Georgia on par with the rest of the receivers. The offensive line returns all five starters and has been good in pass protection this season.

4. Where can Mizzou be most exposed?

The secondary, for sure. Deebo Samuel roasted Missouri last season and that was with a more experienced secondary. Missouri doesn’t have a guy that can lock him down and take him out of the game. They need to figure out some way to contain him. The pass-rush has been lacking and while it looked a bit better against Georgia, they can’t give Jake Bentley time to throw.

I think Bentley is very underrated and can pick apart Missouri is the Tigers don’t take him seriously.

5. Barry Odom is 14-15 through two and a half seasons. Any hot seat buzz?

If he wins this game, I think that goes away. They’d be 4-1 going into Alabama next week with a mostly front-loaded schedule. They get Kentucky, Arkansas and Vanderbilt at home and Tennessee late in the season, too. That’s at least three wins and maybe four if they show up against Kentucky.

If they collapse and finish 6-6 or 5-7 then there will certainly be hot seat buzz. But a win Saturday would quash that, for sure.

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