Missouri Football Three Keys: South Carolina


Missouri hosts South Carolina on Saturday in Columbia, MO. Here are your three keys to a Missouri win over South Carolina.

By Matt Zemek

The Missouri Tigers have been volatile through three weeks. They certainly had to be encouraged by how they played versus West Virginia, and they are probably still thinking about that 27-point second quarter Wyoming hung on them in Week 1. If Mizzou had not collapsed in those 15 minutes, the Tigers might be 3-0 right now.

Will the real Missouri stand up? That’s one question worth asking. Is the real Mizzou the team which lost focus against Wyoming, or the team which has played focused football the past two weeks, especially on defense? Answers might emerge this week against South Carolina.

Key 1 – Confuse Ryan Hilinski

Missouri’s coaching staff has to be impressed by South Carolina backup quarterback Ryan Hilinski, who was not intimidated by playing the Alabama Crimson Tide this past weekend. Hilinski made a lot of high-level throws. He got his South Carolina offense to continuously move the ball against Alabama’s defense. Some questionable officiating decisions and some bad luck prevented South Carolina from scoring in the mid-to-high 30s against Alabama. Hilinski is a freshman, but he didn’t look like it against Nick Saban’s team. That is a significant achievement for a young quarterback.

Mizzou band
Mizzou band

The Tigers have to find ways to keep Hilinski guessing. They need to grasp how well Hilinski read the Alabama defense and respect the enormity of the challenge they face this week. Getting Hilinski off balance is the centerpiece of the Missouri game plan, the most direct path to victory the Tigers have in Week 4.

Key 2 – Home runs versus doubles

South Carolina hit a lot of doubles against Alabama, intermediate-range or moderately long gains (in the 20-to-30-yard range) which moved the ball down the field but did not directly score touchdowns. Alabama hit the home runs against South Carolina, the 50-or-more-yard plays which immediately rang up seven points and changed the scoreboard.

This game is likely to be a matchup of home runs versus doubles as well. The team which hits the huge touchdown play will win. The team which hits a lot of 25-yard plays without scoring touchdowns – and which needs several more snaps on a drive, inviting the increased possibility of a mistake or a deflating field goal – will lose. Maximizing big plays and containing the opponent’s successful plays will figure prominently here.

Key 3 – This one is personal

Kelly Bryant, a former Clemson man, learned to hate South Carolina. There are few teams Bryant would like to beat more than the Gamecocks. This can be positive motivational fuel for Missouri and its offensive leader, but the reminder about passion is that it has to be directed into the flow of the game. Bryant can’t want to win too much; if he does, he will force throws and make the overzealous decisions which can lead to disaster.

Saturday‘s game kicks off at 3:00 PM CT (4:00 PM ET). Watch on the SEC Network.

This Week’s SEC Football News and Analysis

GameFirst Looks3 Keys
HighlightsFinal Stats
Southern Miss vs. AlabamaUSMBamaPreviewBama 49, USM 7Stats
San Jose State vs. ArkansasSan Jose StArkansasPreviewSJSU 31, Arkansas 24Stats
Tennessee vs. FloridaUT / UFFloridaPreviewUF 34, Tennessee 3Stats
Notre Dame vs. GeorgiaUNDGeorgiaPreviewUGA 23, UND 17Stats
Cal vs. Ole MissCalOle MissPreviewCal 28, OM 20Stats
Kentucky vs. Mississippi StateMSUUK / MSUPreviewMSU 28, UK 13Stats
South Carolina vs. MissouriUSC / MizzouUSC / MizzouPreviewMizzou 34, USC 14Stats
Auburn vs. Texas A&MAuburn / A&MAuburn / A&MPreviewAuburn 28, TAMU 20Stats
LSU vs. VanderbiltLSU / VandyLSU / VandyPreviewLSU 66, Vandy 38Stats
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