No. 25 South Carolina lost to Missouri 23-10 at home Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks’ offense was inconsistent throughout the contest while Missouri was able to control the tempo of the game and string together long drives.
The Gamecocks began the game sluggishly on offense with only one first down through its first three drives, all three of which resulted in punts. Meanwhile, Missouri put together three straight scoring drives of double-digit plays after punting on its opening possession.
“We're not good enough in the first quarter, for whatever reason, and we spent a lot of time on how we want to start games and the openers, and it hasn't been good enough," head coach Shane Beamer said. "Whether it be execution, play calls, whatever you look at. You look at everything, but we've got to be better at that and get off to better starts."
Missouri nearly doubled South Carolina’s time of possession in the first half, keeping the defense on the field during the extended drives that gave the Tigers a 17-0 lead. The Gamecocks responded before the break with a 10-play, 82-yard drive of its own that ended with junior quarterback Spencer Rattler scoring on a seven-yard rushing touchdown.
Rattler finished 20 for 30 with 171 yards, an interception and a fumble. The running game never got a foothold and the Gamecocks had only 32 rushing yards while allowing Missouri to gain 143 yards on the ground.
Sophomore running back MarShawn Lloyd, the leading rusher this season for the Gamecocks, was very limited in his production in the game, with seven carries, and barely played in the second half. He suffered a bruise on his quad in the first half and tried to play through it after halftime but could not continue. The injury is not long-term, according to Beamer.
The loss of Lloyd may have affected the South Carolina gameplan, but Beamer said it all comes to execution on the field. After junior tight end Jaheim Bell, who starred in last season’s bowl game, got zero touches in the game, Beamer emphasized the difficulty of involving a variety of players when playing from behind with an inconsistent offense.
“We’ve got a lot of great playmakers on our offense, at receiver, at running back and tight end, when you play 53 plays on offense and you're five of 13 on third down, it's hard to play a lot of plays and get all those guys the ball,” Beamer said.
South Carolina totaled 203 yards of offense in the game and the lack of production was compounded by the pair of turnovers. The team had only one play that gained more than 20 yards on the night and was plagued by quick, three-and-out drives that made it difficult to gain momentum and led to six punts.
“Missouri — they gave us tough looks all night long with their blitzes, their pressures, the way they got after us, and it was tough to get the drop back pass game going," Rattler said post-game. "I don't feel like we had a good idea of knowing what to do. So, I say that's what we need to get better at is just preparing and knowing what to do.”
Rattler was sacked four times, totaling 28 yards lost combined, and the offense only converted 38.5% of its third down attempts. The Gamecock offense had the ball for 13 less minutes than Missouri, limiting opportunities for South Carolina to produce offensively.
No. 25 South Carolina, whose time as a ranked team is likely over, falls to 5-3 (2-3 SEC) with the loss. The Gamecocks will have to prepare quickly before the team travels to Nashville, Tennessee to take on Vanderbilt 3-5 (0-4 SEC) next weekend. Vanderbilt had a bye this week, giving the Commodores an extra week of practice before hosting the Gamecocks.