Missouri beat South Carolina 34-14 for the first time under Barry Odom on Saturday. The Tigers head into the bye week 3-1 riding a three-game winning streak. Here are grades for all four units, a highlight from Saturday’s win and areas to address ahead of the Oct. 5 game vs. Troy.
Play of the game
Ronnell Perkins 100-yard pick-six: The Star’s Vahe Gregorian made a strong case for Cale Garrett’s touchdown for historical reasons, but Perkins’ play was the nail in the coffin. The Gamecocks were driving downfield with a chance to cut MU’s lead to three and Perkins’ interception took all the momentum away from them. MU never looked back.
Offense: B-. Kelly Bryant has had better games for MU, but he was more involved in the run game Saturday. The Tigers played better in the second half but left a lot of points on the table in the first half. Still, MU punched back after the Gamecocks scored to start the second half and learned how to milk the clock.
Defense: A+. Missouri had another pick-six and essentially held the Gamecocks’ offense to just one big play the whole game. The pass-rush got to USC quarterback Ryan Hilinski multiple times and star wideout Bryan Edwards was a non-factor. Tyree Gillespie and Josh Bledsoe looked like the safeties Barry Odom praised in the preseason. Ryan Walters’ unit is clicking on all cylinders.
Special teams: A. Richaud Floyd had another good return to set up an MU score, this one for 25 yards, while Tucker McCann continued his strong punting. McCann missed a field goal, but it didn’t end up hurting MU.
Coaching: A+. Odom praised Walters and the defensive staff for their game plan, as they completely took the run away from the Gamecocks. The players responded to adversity better than they did at Wyoming, which also stems from coaching.
As Missouri welcomes Troy to town in two weeks, here are two things the Tigers need to improve:
Health: Yasir Durant missed the game due to a neck injury after Odom said he’d play and he’s too important for the offense to have out long-term. MU could also see defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat return from an elbow injury in time for the Troy game. Getting both back would be huge for MU in the trenches.
R-E-L-A-X on offense: Bryant admitted after the game he was pressing too much on offense, which led to a lot of bad passes to his wideouts. MU’s wideouts also made their fair share of mistakes, dropping a number of catchable balls. MU needs to calm down on offense.