Winless in the SEC after three games for just the second time during Steve Spurrier’s tenure, South Carolina must pick up the pieces offensively after a lackluster effort on Saturday at Mizzou. The Gamecocks are facing an uphill climb toward bowl season and must improve at the quarterback spot.


  • QB Lorenzo Nunez isn’t yet an SEC quarterback: Nearly flawless in his debut against a bad UCF defense last week, South Carolina’s true freshman struggled on the road in his first SEC start and threw interceptions on three consecutive possessions at one point in the game. Too often Nunez misread coverages, never looked off receivers and seemed intimidated by pressure. Better than average on the move, Nunez is still awfully raw from a passing standpoint.
  • Defensive line out-muscled, sluggish: South Carolina’s lack of explosion at the point of attack has been its biggest issue since the start of the 2014 season. The Gamecocks’ defensive ends aren’t doing a great job of sealing the edge and fighting off blocks while defensive tackles — sans a sack from Dante Sawyer on a nice play — struggle in pursuit. It’s a personnel issue along with assistant coach Deke Adams not developing what he’s got.
  • Drew Lock has a bright future at Mizzou: He doesn’t yet have complete control of the playbook, but you can tell Lock’s much more seasoned as a passer than say, Nunez, thanks to the noticeable zip he puts on his throws. He’s much more accurate than Maty Mauk and moves around well in the pocket. If Mauk never starts another game for the Tigers, I wouldn’t be surprised.


Offense: (D) — If not for a lucky touchdown in the second quarter on a tipped ball (that should’ve been an interception) into the hands of Shon Carson, the Gamecocks would’ve been kept out of the end zone by a defense that supplied constant pressure on Nunez. When he got past the first wave of defenders, Nunez once again showed speed at the second level and moved the chains several times with his feet, but South Carolina’s offensive line was largely man-handled by a much more aggressive front seven on the other side of the football. Pharoh Cooper caught nine passes for 102 yards and was South Carolina’s best player offensively.
Defense: (B-) — Jon Hoke’s unit didn’t give up many big plays, but Mizzou’s 4-for-4 effort in the red zone highlighted by two touchdown passes from true freshman Drew Lock in his first career start was disappointing. The Tigers only gained 299 yards of total offense on 70 total plays, but nine third-down conversions on 16 tries and 98 yards rushing from Ish Witter kept a tired defense on the field.
Special Teams: (B) — Elliott Fry’s 10-for-14 on the season in field goal tries after going 1-for-2 against the Tigers, missing on a 44-yarder just before halftime. Three of Sean Kelly’s four punts were downed inside the 20 while Landon Ard reached the end zone for a touchback on two of his three kickoffs.
Coaching: (C) — To put it bluntly, South Carolina has rarely looked prepared this season. The fans see it. The beat writers see it. Spurrier often admits as much post-game. Lots of backward plays offensively and the lack of an aggressive style that seemed to carry this team over the last several seasons. Confidence isn’t there in the locker room or on the sideline and it’s starting to show.
Overall: (C) — The Gamecocks lost a very winnable game by failing to execute offensively and once again struggling with run fits up front. Too often South Carolina’s getting pushed around at the line of scrimmage and when that happens in the SEC, you get beat. At 2-3 with four games left against ranked teams starting with next week’s stiff challenge vs. LSU, the Gamecocks’ bowl fate has probably flatlined.


Spurrier tempered expectations a bit after Nunez’s breakout performance last week against UCF. He knew a repeat outing against one of college football’s best defenses would be unlikely and he was right. Three interceptions weren’t Spurrier’s fault and I thought the Gamecocks had underneath routes all day if they would’ve provided Nunez with better protection. But when he first read was covered, the tendency to run ruined play design.


  • QB Drew Lock, Mizzou: Two TD passes, zero turnovers
  • WR Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina: Nine receptions, 102 yards


  • Nunez left the game temporarily after landing on his shoulder during a tackle, but returned to the game after a brief absence. He’ll be re-evaluated on Sunday, but the injury does not appear to be serious.