South Carolina and Missouri made history Saturday, becoming the first two teams ever to match true freshman starting quarterbacks in an SEC game. In the third quarter, you could tell.
Gamecocks quarterback Lorenzo Nunez, making his second career start and first against a conference opponent, threw interceptions on three consecutive series on the way to a 24-10 loss to the Tigers.
“We wished he had thrown those in a little different spot,” head coach Steve Spurrier said. “We’ll go back and watch the tape, and we’ll see. We had some guys open I think. You have to get the ball to the open guy at the right time and we didn’t do that but maybe once.”
One of Nunez’s interception was the result of a poor throw, the other two were because of bad reads on his part, he said.
“I felt pretty comfortable. They got me off guard on two picks I threw,” he said. “They threw me off guard a little bit but other than that, it was pretty good.”
Missouri had the SEC’s stingiest defense coming into the game, and Nunez quickly noticed the difference between the Tigers and last week’s opponent, the UCF Knights.
“Their front line was really quick,” he said. “They were way quicker than UCF. They did a good job of containing me getting on the outside. They just did a good job, and we really couldn’t do anything about that.”
As bad as Nunez’s day was at times, he was a bright spot, too. He was the Gamecocks’ leading rusher (60 yards on 15 carries), which was problem. Starting running back Brandon Wilds didn’t play for the second straight week because of a rib injury, and fill-ins David Williams and Shon Carson combined for 45 yards on 17 carries against the Tigers.
“The only thing we had (in the running game) was Lorenzo,” Spurrier said. “We didn’t block those guys very well at all. We need to re-evaluate a little bit some of our inside runs. There are some things we can do differently, but again give Missouri credit.”
The Gamecocks finished with 298 total yards, their second-lowest total of the season. Their 112 rushing yards were a season low. Stalwart wide receiver Pharoh Cooper finished with 102 yards on nine catches.
Nunez left the game in the fourth quarter because of a shoulder sprain but said afterward that he doesn’t believe the injury is serious and he plans to play against LSU this week. Nunez will remain South Carolina’s starter if he’s healthy, Spurrier said.
“He had a lot of big plays,” Spurrier said. “He can’t carry the whole load by himself. Other people have to help us, too.”