USC-Missouri preview: Making sense of where the Gamecocks stand
South Carolina was expected to beat Missouri in the preseason. It still is in Las Vegas. But everything around the Gamecocks feels shakier than it did just two weeks ago after a comfortable victory over Vanderbilt.
The Gamecocks (2-2 overall, 1-2 SEC) take on the Tigers (3-1, 0-1) on Saturday at noon in Williams-Brice Stadium. South Carolina is a 1.5-point favorite, but the Gamecocks have some issues.
Starting quarterback Jake Bentley suffered what is said to be a minor knee injury against Kentucky and didn’t finish that game. Head coach Will Muschamp has said Bentley will be a “game time decision” but senior quarterback Michael Scarnecchia took most of the first-team snaps in practice this week and was being prepared to be the starter. Wide receiver Bryan Edwards, safety J.T. Ibe and tight ends K.C. Crosby and Jacob August also on the injury list.
Even if they all play (Ibe almost certainly won’t), questions remain for the Gamecocks based on their last outing. South Carolina’s new offense has offered some familiar results (28.3 points per game, 11th in the SEC). Its defense ranks 12th in the SEC against the run, allowing 171 yards per game on the ground.
At the moment, the Gamecocks have more questions than answers.
Missouri brings quarterback Drew Lock into Williams-Brice Stadium to face a South Carolina secondary that head coach Will Muschamp says has had communication issues all season. Being without Ibe, a starter, won’t help on that front. Lock is ninth in the nation with 320.8 passing yards per game.
The Tigers’ lone loss this season has come against Georgia in a respectable 43-29 showing. That game might have been more impressive than its three wins, which came against UT-Martin, Wyoming and Purdue. Missouri had an open date last week so it will arrive well-rested and fresh off what probably was an energizing effort against the Bulldogs.
South Carolina will arrive to the stadium wondering exactly what kind of team it has. The Gamecocks will be wondering the same thing when they leave.
Missouri 35, South Carolina 24