Three things we learned from the Gamecocks’ won over Missouri
1. The wild day
The game had six lead changes, each team blew a nine-point lead and a backup led a game-winning drive necessitated by a 57-yard field goal — and that’s only about half of the wackiness of South Carolina’s 37-35 win against the Missouri Tigers. It was South Carolina’s third win in the series, running USC’s record to 5-2 since the Tigers joined the SEC.
2. The man of the hour
Michael Scarnecchia had only thrown 13 college passes before Saturday. Starting in place of Jake Bentley, all he did was throw for 249 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and lead a 53-yard last-minute drive to win the game.
3. The home state hero — from Missouri
Kyle Markway came to South Carolina from Missouri, and has gone through a career battling injuries and filling small roles for the Gamecocks. He opened this year as the No. 4 tight end, but against the Tigers, he got to play hero, hauling in a 27-yard pass on a busted coverage to get USC in range for the winning kick.
4. The new starters
Markway was one of four Gamecocks making their first starts of the season, three who had never started before. Scarnecchia, fellow tight end Kiel Pollard and wide receiver Josh Vann were out with the offense on the first series. Markway was making his first start since 2015.
5. The freshmen
The Gamecocks played seven first-year players on the day, led by Vann and defensive back Jaycee Horn in the starting lineup. Other true freshmen who played were R.J. Roderick, Israel Mukuamu, Rosendo Louis Jr., Kingsley Enagbare, Rick Sandidge. Second-year linebacker Damani Staley also got some of his first defensive work in a competitive part of the game, as USC was rotating early.
6. The delay
Lightning struck not once, but twice, forcing the game to be delayed an hour and 16 minutes. It happened in the final three minutes, interrupting Missouri’s bid for a go-ahead score. Heavy rainfall right over the stadium affected the game in a big way, impacting kicking and limiting visibility.
7. The electrical problems
The storm wrought havoc with electronics through the game. For stretches, the game and play clocks in the stadium didn’t work. South Carolina’s coaches also had to take off headsets at times, as Missouri’s were going in and out.
8. The foot out of bounds
South Carolina could’ve seen a comeback derailed when Damar Crockett raced 70 yards through the Gamecocks defense right after a USC score. But he was ruled to have stepped out of bounds, and a set of penalties turned 1st and 10 from the 11-yard line into 3rd and 34. Then a mishandled punt led to South Carolina taking its first lead.
9. The secondary issues
The Gamecocks’ pass defense acquitted itself well, holding Drew Lock below a completion percentage of 50. But there were a lot of issues, with a former walk-on going in at safety, multiple missed tackles and starter Keisean Nixon getting pulled a couple times. Horn was a bright spot, breaking up four passes.
10. The new-QB offense
With a first-time starter, USC offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon tried to lean on the run. Outside the final drive, the Gamecocks ran 80 percent of the time on first down, and on nine of 10 plays with second and 7 or fewer. USC passed 16 times in 17 third-down situations, getting big gains on third-and-short throws.
11. The pick-six
It looked as if Drew Lock was just trying to throw the ball away on a busted screen play. He threw, and Gamecocks linebacker Sherrod Greene was right there, swooping in and scoring his first career touchdown.
12. That not-really onside kick
South Carolina’s first touchdown was set up by an odd, and apparently accidental, onside kick. After Missouri’s first score, kicker Tucker McCann sent the ball short, hitting off his own teammate. It let USC start its drive at the MU 37. At halftime, Barry Odom clarified it was just a mis-hit ball.
13. The kicker
Last season in South Carolina’s fourth game, Parker White made a game-winning kick after a wild finish. He did it again Saturday, hitting from 33 yards out with two seconds left. He’s 8-for-9 on the season after a 3-for-3 day.
14. The red zone magic
South Carolina’s proficiency near the goal line probably saved the victory for USC. The Tigers got inside USC’s 20 eight times, but were stopped for field goals three times and twice came away scoreless.
15. The next step
The Gamecocks are back above .500 and in good position to at least bowl, but the next game is suddenly formidable. Jimbo Fisher’s first Texas A&M team seems to be coming together, having just toppled previously undefeated Kentucky in overtime and breaking into the rankings at No. 20.