South Carolina hopes to ride momentum against Missouri
Central Florida’s visit to Columbia came at just the right time for the Gamecocks last week.
South Carolina moved the ball a little, got freshman quarterback Lorenzo Nunez some game action and — after a shaky first half — generally left feeling good about itself after a 31-14 win.
Now, the Gamecocks will try to avoid being a similar tonic for Missouri when it visits a different Columbia on Saturday (noon, SECN).
The Tigers have been struggling a bit in recent weeks, pulling out an ugly 9-6 win over UConn at home two weeks ago and falling on the road to Kentucky, 21-13, last time out.
Missouri is last in the league in scoring, rushing and total offense, and it’s starting to wear a bit on the team and its fan base.
“We’re not scoring enough points. We understand that,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “But we did make progress. It does get frustrating. Certainly it does.”
Injuries have been a factor for the Missouri attack as running back Russell Hansbrough has been dealing with a right ankle sprain and quarterback Maty Mauk has a sore throwing shoulder.
South Carolina can relate as Nunez was the replacement for Perry Orth, who was the replacement for an injured Connor Mitch.
Injuries aside, both teams need to pick up a first SEC win this weekend. It seems likely that the team that finds a little bit of offense first will have the advantage come Saturday.
MISSOURI TIGERS CLOSER LOOK
Top player, offense: Russell Hansbrough, Sr., RB — Hansbrough has only 13 carries for 49 yards this season, and the Tigers have desperately missed his steady production. Pinkel said Monday that Hansbrough looked like he was as healthy as he’s been all season, and that would be good news for the Tigers.
He had only 43 yards in last year’s meeting but did score all three Missouri touchdowns in a 21-20 victory.
Top player, defense: Kentrell Brothers, R-Sr., LB — Another member of the Missouri walking wounded, Brothers injured his ankle in last week’s game against Kentucky. He still had 10 tackles, and leads the nation with 52.
He’s officially listed as questionable for Saturday’s game, but his teammates seem to think he’s going to give it a go. Brothers had 10 stops against South Carolina last season.
Top player, special teams: Andrew Baggett, Sr., K — When a team doesn’t move the ball as well as it would like, place kicking becomes all the more crucial. Baggett has converted 6 of 7 field goal attempts and all nine of his PATs in 2015. However, he is only 2 of 6 in three games against the Gamecocks.