A South Carolina (4-4, 2-4 SEC) team that stunned a #18 Tennessee team last week hosts a Missouri (2-6, 0-4 SEC) squad that can’t buy a win in an SEC East battle.
While each team has suffered more losses than wins in the conference, the Gamecocks figure to be the favorite. The Tigers are on a four-game losing streak, even losing to Middle Tennessee State, a Conference USA team. Suffice to say it’s been a rough introduction for first-year Missouri coach Barry Odom.
Help, I Need Somebody
Odom took the head coaching job after being the team’s defensive coordinator last season. He’s reached out to multiple SEC coaches in an effort to ease his transition. Odom thinks it’s important to pick the brains of others when given the chance. He reached out to Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops recently. The Wildcats are on the upswing and breathing down Florida’s neck in the SEC East. But Stoops has walked Odom’s current road before. UK was 12-24 from 2013-15. Odom wants to glean as much information as possible about overall team management and some of the smaller nuances that those with experience are privy to.
The big match up here is the Gamecocks red zone defense. South Carolina has allowed opponents to score only 71 percent of the time in the red zone, good for 11th in the FBS. The Tigers, meanwhile, only celebrate 79 percent of the time, which is 103rd worst. USC head coach Will Muschamp says the red zone is something his team focuses on in practice. South Carolina clocks in at 383 yards per game given up, 43rd in FBS. The first-year coach credits his defense for not being susceptible to the big plays.
Hate in Muschamp all you want but he can coach defense. South Carolina still hasn't allowed more than 30 points this year.
— Atlanta Sports Guy (@Atlantasportguy) October 30, 2016
Run or Pass?
Odom said he’s realized in the SEC, you have to get creative in running the ball. He’s also acknowledged that his team is not well equipped to do that right now. His team is 45th in the country with 195 yards per game and seventh in the SEC. If anyone sees the majority of the touches on the ground it’s Damarea Crockett. He’s been impressive for a freshman, rushing 601 yards with seven touchdowns. He averages a strong 6.3 yards per carry. But of course, Missouri relies on QB Drew Lock. He’s second in the conference in passing yards, but ever since passing for 167 yards against LSU on Oct.1, he’s been subpar. He hasn’t eclipsed the 300-yard mark since Sept.24 against Delaware State. In his last four games he has only four touchdowns to three interceptions.
As for USC, it’s no secret what their plan of attack is: throw it in the air. The team is last in the conference in rushing (they haven’t eclipsed 1,000 yards yet on the ground). In the air, they’re eighth in the SEC with 1,641 yards. Freshman QB Jake Bentley figures to get another start against the Tigers. In the win against Tennessee, he was 15-for-20 with 167 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Tigers hold a 4-2 all-time record over the Gamecocks along with a two-game win streak. The last time USC won was in 2013 under Steve Spurrier. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. on the SEC Network.