The Daily Gamecock

Preview: Gamecocks seek first road win of the season against No. 20 Missouri

The South Carolina football team (2-4, 1-3 SEC) will look to bounce back against the No. 20 Missouri Tigers (6-1, 2-1 SEC) and capture its first road win of the 2023 season when the teams face off on Saturday.

The Gamecocks suffered a gut-wrenching 41-39 loss last week during its homecoming game against the Florida Gators. The team led the Gators for almost the entire 4th quarter, but Florida took the lead in the final 47 seconds.

Obviously it wasn’t good enough,” head coach Shane Beamer said. “When we call pressures, we’ve got to be aggressive and have a mentality to get (to the quarterback), and you got to win. And we’ve got to be smart about when we’re calling (those plays).” 

Junior quarterback Brady Cook is in his second year leading the Tigers, and last week he was 19-29 passing for 167 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception against the No. 24 Kentucky Wildcats.

Cook was not the only playmaker in Missouri's backfield against Kentucky. Graduate student running back Cody Schrader added 71 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown to the Tigers' 38-21 victory. 

Missouri’s defense also limited the Kentucky offense, causing three turnovers — including two interceptions off of senior quarterback Devin Leary — and shutting out the Wildcats in the fourth quarter. One of those interceptions came from junior defensive back Kris Abrams-Draine, who is tied for third in the nation with four interceptions.

“It’s a big challenge offensively, and then defensively, disruptive would be an understatement,” Beamer said. “Our last two games against them the last two years, the story of the game has just been how disruptive they’ve been, particularly on the defensive line.” 

Last year, South Carolina fell to Missouri 23-10 in Williams-Brice Stadium as then-redshirt junior quarterback Spencer Rattler completed 20 of his 30 passes for 171 passing yards, no touchdowns, one interception and one lost fumble. The Tigers held Rattler to negative two rushing yards and former Gamecock running back MarShawn Lloyd to just 30 yards. 

The Gamecock defense allowed 367 offensive yards to the Tigers’ offense in the game, including the 143 rushing yards, and Cook went for 224 passing yards, 53 rushing yards and no touchdowns, interceptions or fumbles. 

Beamer said South Carolina must focus on getting off the field and stopping the big plays this time around. The Tigers have the third most total offense in the SEC —trailing only LSU and Georgia — and the 27th most productive offense in the FBS. 

“I think we played 86 plays (defensively) on Saturday, so that’s way too many plays,” Beamer said. “We got to get up. We’ve got to get off the field.” 

Throughout the 2022 season, the Gamecocks allowed 28.8 points per game on 404.7 total offensive yards given up per game. This season, South Carolina has allowed 31.3 points on 451.5 total offensive yards per game. 

This regression in defensive production has caused some defensive players to start playing with the feeling of needing to prove themselves, according to redshirt junior defensive lineman Alex “Boogie” Huntley.

“We know what kind of defense we are. We know what type of players we have. I know who’s behind me to my right and left, and I know they’re great players,” Huntley said. 

South Carolina is officially halfway through the season and sits two games below .500. To make a bowl game, the Gamecocks must finish 4-2, but redshirt senior running back Mario Anderson said that the team has faith in themselves to get better.

“We’ve got six games left. We’re not out of anything just yet,” Anderson said. “We came, today at practice, full of energy, ready to compete every single day, just ready to bring what we know in our style of play.” 

Missouri leads the all-time series over South Carolina 7-6, with the last Gamecock victory coming at home in 2018 with a 37-35 win. The last time South Carolina won at Missouri was 2017

The Gamecocks will travel to Columbia, Missouri, to face the Tigers at 3:30 p.m. with the game broadcasted on the SEC Network.