South Carolina Football: Full game notes from Missouri loss

South Carolina football Xavier Legette took a big shot on a kickoff and, ultimately, had to leave the game. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina football Xavier Legette took a big shot on a kickoff and, ultimately, had to leave the game. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /
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The days leading up to the battle for the Mayor’s Cup were not indicative of an overly optimistic Gamecock Nation. Heading into the trip to the “other Columbia,” South Carolina football fans appear to have resigned themselves to witnessing an underwhelming season by their favorite college football team.

The defensive struggles this season have been at their worst in the Gamecocks’ most recent games against Florida and Tennessee, and barring a massive turnaround on that side of the football, USC will miss out on a bowl game for the first time under head coach Shane Beamer.

In Saturday’s game against the Missouri Tigers, the South Carolina football team did nothing to erase the narrative surrounding their defense, and the results on the field mirrored the continued struggles.

For a shorter summary of the Missouri game, click here.

South Carolina Football vs. Missouri:
A Game Summary

The pregame news that dominated social media was addressed several hours before kickoff as Shane Beamer arrived in CoMo without a walking boot (though, he was wearing a tennis shoe on his broken foot while wearing a dress shoe on his other).

Coming in ranked 20th in the AP poll, the 6-1 Tigers returned the opening Mitch Jeter kickoff to the 34-yard line. A drop from Mookie Cooper started a drive of three straight incompletions, and a Gamecock-friendly bounce on the punt gave USC the ball at the other 34. On the defensive drive, Carolina ran more Cover-2 instead of the usual Cover-1 look that has struggled mightily this season.

Rocking some garnet pants with a slightly different stripe than normal, the Carolina offense had a little better luck than Mizzou’s. A Mario Anderson carry went nowhere, but Spencer Rattler found Xavier Legette for a nice 1st down. The Gamecocks picked up another conversion thanks to a defensive holding penalty.

The ‘Cocks got behind the sticks after their own holding penalty, but a couple of completions to O’Mega Blake and DK Joyner picked up another 1st down. The running game misfired again (twice), and a 14-yard loss on a 3rd down sack set up a really poor 51-yard field goal attempt into the win that missed short and right.

After starting the first drive, the banged-up Stone Blanton did not start the second drive at linebacker. Pup Howard relieved him and missed a tackle to surrender Mizzou’s second 1st down of the drive. On the next play, quarterback Brady Cook hit Luther Burden for a 42-yard strike for a touchdown despite being double-covered by safeties Jalon Kilgore and DQ Smith. Missouri took the first lead of the game 7-0.

The Gamecock offensive line was bad on the next possession. The Gamecocks had one carry that was blown up, and Rattler was running for his life on the other two snaps, including a sack on 3rd down. Sidney Fugar, playing in place of the injured Vershon Lee, missed his assignment, resulting in Rattler going down.

After a short Kai Kroeger punt bounced in favor of USC, running back Cody Schrader had his first good run of the game, gaining 8 yards on the first play for the Tigers. The Gamecocks forced a fumble on 3rd down, but an offside penalty on defensive end Jordan Strachan kept the ball with the home team.

After another nice run from Schrader, TJ Sanders blew up the 1st down play before Marcellas Dial got smoked by Theo Wease to get down to the 11-yard line. On the next play, with the Gamecocks not even set and staring confusedly at the sideline, Schrader galloped across the goal line untouched to push the lead to 14-0.

Starting at the 19 after the kick, the Carolina offense picked up a 1st down after Rattler and Anderson carries, and the 1st quarter ended. A horribly executed slip screen netted a big loss on the next play, and Rattler was sacked on 2nd down. A facemask erased the result, but the offense could do nothing to capitalize on the extra opportunity as a bad snap from center Nick Gargiulo doomed a potential 3rd down conversion.

Another bad Kai Kroeger punt bounced almost 20 years to net a decent outcome, but Missouri regained the yardage and more with a 3rd-and-10 conversion and two more 1st down runs from Cody Schrader. The Gamecocks had Brady Cook hemmed up on a keeper but missed the tackle as he scampered for 20 yards. A few plays later, he took off up the middle for another UM touchdown, making the score 21-0, and the rout was on.

Rattler found Trey Knox for a first down, but that was all USC could get as the offensive line folded yet again. Another short Kroeger punt was bailed out by a nice bounce, and Missouri began their next drive inside the 15.

The gashing of the Gamecock defense continued on the next drive as Schrader had a 16-yard rush, and Cook found a wide-open Cooper for a 23-yard pitch and catch. Schrader went for 30 on the next snap to make it 1st-and-goal for the Tigers. A dropped potential touchdown resulted in ridiculously tone-deaf defensive celebrations, and the Tigers kicked a field goal to go up 24-0.

The Gamecocks would have been forced to punt again, but Rattler drew a roughing the passer penalty to extend the drive. A completion to DK Joyner put Carolina within striking distance of a score, but the offense could get nothing else, and a Mitch Jeter field goal was all that could be salvaged. The 51-yarder was true, and South Carolina football was on the board.

24-3 was the margin with 30 seconds left in the half, and Eli Drinkwitz elected to kneel the clock out to send the two teams to the locker rooms.

The Gamecocks received the 2nd half kick and gained two quick 1st downs, including a 22-yard catch for Nyck Harbor on a crossing pattern. A 3rd came on a speed option to Mario Anderson, but South Carolina had to settle for a field goal, a 41-yard make from Jeter that brought the score up to 24-6.

Missouri picked up one first down on the ensuing drive, but a well-timed A-gap blitz from Debo Williams forced a 4d down throwaway from Cook, and the Tigers dropped the snap on the punt, giving South Carolina football the ball back at the Mizzou 33-yard line.

Mario Anderson bobbed and weaved his way for 13 on 1st down. He then caught a swing pass for seven and, ever the gentleman, helped up a female photographer on the sideline. Tyshawn Russell dropped a would-be touchdown, and Rattler was sacked on 3rd down, so out trotted Mitch Jeter once again. The 38-yarder was good, and 24-9 was the score.

The garnet and black defense had a solid showing on the next possession, and Missouri was forced to punt again. However, the Luke Bauer punt was a bomb that flipped the field. The Gamecocks would take over at their own 19.

Another sack killed the Gamecocks’ next drive and moved USC to 2-10 on 3rd down for the game, and another awful Kroeger punt gave the Tigers the ball back with good field position.

A methodical Mizzou drive saw Schrader get the lion’s share of the workload in moving the ball into field goal range as the game flipped to the 4th quarter. A dropped snap set Missouri back too far to continue moving forward, and Harrison Mevis hit a 53-yard field goal through the driving wind to extend the lead to 27-9.

A Mario Anderson carry and a Spencer Rattler strip sack (one in which the ball went 20 feet in the air and moved forward for a USC gain) preceded a short conversion from Rattler to Juju McDowell. Then, big Nyck Harbor hurt himself a hit and lost his helmet on a nice back-shoulder catch for 28 yards. Rattler hit O’Mega Blake for a 30-yard gain on the next play to get the Gamecocks inside the 5. The Gamecocks couldn’t convert, so Jeter banged through a 21-yarder. 27-12.

With 10:31 on the clock, Missouri held a two-touchdown lead but couldn’t get a 1st down while burning about two minutes off of the game clock. The Bauer punt bounced all the way to the 2-yard line after Eddie Lewis inexplicably let the punt drop instead of calling for a fair catch near the 25-yard line.

Mario Anderson took a handoff from his own end zone and burst forward for 17 yards. A false start and Rattler scramble made it 2nd-and-9. He ran for 16 to extend the drive, but a less-than-great effort on a jump ball to O’Mega Blake ended with an interception that all but ended the game.

On 3rd down, just when it looked like Carolina would get another stop, Brady Cook found Luther Burden manned up with a safety again, and he beat DQ Smith for 30 yards on a slot fade. A few Cody Schrader runs later, the former Truman State product found the end zone again to put the nail in the Gamecocks’ metaphoric coffin. His final carry extended his career-high rushing performance to 159 yards on the day.

South Carolina football fell to the Missouri Tigers by a score of 34-12.

The Gamecock defense was embarrassingly awful in the first half, and the offensive line was bad enough to prevent the offense from consistently moving the football. When Xavier Legette left the game, Spencer Rattler’s job became that much harder.

Missouri made a ton of mistakes in the second half to keep the game from becoming an absolute blowout.

Nyck Harbor and Mario Anderson had decent showings flanking Rattler for the offense. Debo Williams had a nice second half for the defense, and Jalon Kilgore and TJ Sanders had some good moments. Mitch Jeter hit 4-5 field goals (including all four of the realistic tries). Those are about the only positives from this game.