What You’ll Need to Know About Missouri
By Avery Wilks
The Gamecocks host their first SEC home game of the 2012 season this Saturday against the unranked Missouri Tigers. This “Battle of the Columbias” is already significant, as both South Carolina and Mizzou have their eyes on the SEC East title. With one SEC loss already, Missouri has their backs against the wall, so Spurrier will need to have South Carolina ready to face the conference newcomers’ best effort. They’ll surely try to scratch and claw their way to an upset on the road. We’ve got everything you’ll need to know heading into South Carolina’s second SEC game of the year.
First, we’ll start with the facts.
- Missouri is (2-1) on the season, with a 21-point loss in Week 2 to Georgia in the other Columbia.
- Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel is 84-54 at Missouri, and 157-91-3 overall.
- Missouri holds a 2-0 record against South Carolina, with wins coming in the 2005 Independence Bowl and the 1979 Hall of Fame Bowl.
- This game marks the second time Missouri has played a seventh-ranked opponent this year, as Georgia was ranked #7 in Week 2.
- Missouri has been terrible late in games, having been outscored a combined 30-0 by Georgia and Arizona State in the 4th quarters of the past two weeks.
- South Carolina is better than Missouri in every major statistical category this season, including overall and SEC records, passing offense, rushing offense, points allowed per game, and points scored per game.
- Injury Report
- Missouri’s star quarterback James Franklin missed the Arizona State game after refusing painkillers to deal with a shoulder injury, but he expects to play Saturday against South Carolina.
- Highly-touted Mizzou running back Henry Josey is out for the entire season, with senior Kendial Lawrence taking over the starting job in his absence.
Missouri Tigers Season Recap and Scouting Report
Though it would be hard to argue that Missouri doesn’t have a solid team this year, the 2012 campaign has been a bit rocky for the Tigers of Columbia, Missouri. After decimating a hapless Southeastern Louisiana team at home in Week 1 by 52 points, Missouri looked forward to making a statement against Georgia in the Tigers’ first SEC game. Though Mizzou was never behind until the final minute of the third quarter, the depth and talent of the Bulldogs proved too much for Gary Pinkel’s Tigers, as Georgia scored 24 unanswered points to run away with the game in the final quarter. Last week, Missouri rebounded against Arizona State, holding off a fourth quarter comeback by the Sun Devils to win the game 24-20 in exciting fashion.
Offensively, the Tigers have plenty of talent. Mizzou averages 35 points a game and 380 yards of total offense per contest. Franklin has 400 yards and three touchdowns passing in two games this year, though it will be a game-time decision whether he plays Saturday. His backup is Corbin Berkstresser, who has completed 26 of 46 passes for 258 yards and one passing touchdown this season. Leading Missouri’s renowned rushing attack is senior running back Kendial Lawrence, who has 224 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground, though the bulk of that came against Southeastern Louisiana. The Missouri offense causes problems for defensive secondaries by spreading the ball out to multiple receivers, including T.J. Moe, Marcus Lucas, and L’Damian Washington, all of whom have at least 148 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Though the offense has gotten much of the credit for the Tigers’ success in recent years, the Mizzou defense has been tough thus far in 2012. Currently, the unit ranks 4th in the SEC in total defense, and it is in the SEC’s top-5 in both rushing and passing defense. Not bad for the new kids in the neighborhood. The Tigers’ defense actually resembles that of South Carolina in that it is resilient in the red zone and is full of ball-hawks like Kenronte Walker, the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week whose pass break-up and interception in the end zone in the final three minutes secured the win against Arizona State. Mizzou’s defense has also forced at least two turnovers in every game this year, including four against the Sun Devils last week.
Though I believe South Carolina is a bit more physically talented in every phase of the game than Missouri, the Tigers will be no pushover Saturday, as they seek SEC validation from a win against a noteworthy opponent.