Rapid reaction to Missouri’s 24-10 win against South Carolina on Saturday.
What it means: The two-time defending SEC East champs are still in the mix, while South Carolina drops to 0-3 in SEC play for the first time since 2005, Steve Spurrier’s first season as the Gamecocks coach.
What I liked: Both freshman quarterbacks were very efficient in the first half. Drew Lock was 16-for-19 passing, 108 yards and two touchdowns, while Lorenzo Nunez was 10-for-14, 141 yards and a touchdown. One of the signal-callers stayed on course after halftime while the other went in a totally different direction. Nunez started off the second half by throwing an interception on each of his team’s first three drives coming out of the break. Meanwhile, Lock finished 21-for-28 passing for 136 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
What I didn’t like: South Carolina’s offensive line. The Gamecocks had 17 rushes for five yards in the first half while allowing four sacks. The second half didn’t go much better as Mizzou’s defensive line, along with the combination of corner blitzes and delayed blitzes, wreaked havoc.
Who’s the man?: It has to be Lock, who made good decisions all day long while showing the ability to make tough throws for Mizzou. With the Tigers’ nasty defense, that’s exactly what the team needs. Both of Lock’s touchdown tosses came before the half to receiver Nate Brown. In the first quarter, Locke’s 8-yard TD pass was off his back foot while threading two defenders. The other was in the second quarter, a 9-yard TD coming on a nice sideline throw on a rope to Brown. Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Walter Brady has to get an honorable mention here with two sacks and a key interception. More on that below.
Key play(s): With Missouri leading 17-10 and about 7:30 left in the third quarter, South Carolina defensive back T.J. Holloman dropped an easy interception that could’ve been returned about 10 yards for a potential game-tying touchdown. Instead, the Tigers’ defensive MVP on Saturday showed him how it’s done. Brady intercepted Nunez –his third pick in as many possessions at that point — and returned it 22 yards to the Gamecocks’ 31-yard line. That set up Mizzou’s back-breaking 2-yard TD run by Ish Witter seven plays later that gave the Tigers their final margin of 24-10.
Who’s next?: Missouri hosts Florida at Faurot Field next Saturday.