Missouri head coach Barry Odom is winless in three tries against the Gamecocks, who have become one of the Tigers biggest rivals in the SEC conference. This game will be freshman quarterback Ryan Hillinski’s first big test on the road and he will be up against a formidable foe in senior quarterback Kelly Bryant. Fresh off a cupcake win last week, will the Tigers be able to retain their focus at home against South Carolina?
Hilinksi continues to impress for Gamecocks
South Carolina put up a good fight last week, but they were no match for the No.2-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, who romped them 47-23 to send the Gamecocks to a 1-2 record. An illness ran through the roster during the week leading up to the game, leaving the Gamecocks with as many as 14 players missing from practice heading into the big game. South Carolina’s defense had no answer for Tua Tagavailoa, who finished with 444 passing yards and five touchdowns on the day. Gamecocks senior running back Rico Dowdle had a couple of big runs against the Alabama defense, finishing with 12 carries for 102 yards. He now has 251 yards and two scores this season, while averaging 7.6 yards per carry.
One thing I noticed in rewatching the game is Hilinski’s pocket awareness. So many times in the game he felt the pressure coming and just slid away while keeping his eyes downfield. And an absolute dime on this throw while knowing the hit is coming. pic.twitter.com/nKqR7fILfW
— BrentH (@HJhughes79) September 16, 2019
Freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski has stepped in wonderfully since Jake Bentley’s season-ending foot injury. His performance last week was especially encouraging considering the Gamecocks No.2 and No. 3 quarterbacks currently play wide receiver. Hilinksi, who wears the number 3 as a tribute to his brother, has compiled 606 passing yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions through two games. He threw for 324 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against Alabama last week, showing some moxie by completing a few gutsy throws. Hilinski put up 23 points against an Alabama defense that had surrendered just 6.5 points per game through the first two weeks of the year and was named SEC freshman of the week as a result. He completed 36 of his 57 pass attempts, which was the second-highest single-game total in school history. Of the 20 freshman quarterbacks who have played Nick Saban’s Alabama since 2007, Hilinski had the most attempts and completions and the fourth-most yards.
Missouri not taking advantage of Bryant’s rushing ability
Missouri cruised to a 50-0 victory versus FCS Southeast Missouri State last week, despite a relatively pedestrian day from Kelly Bryant. The Tigers’ senior leader completed 15 of 20 passes for 225 yards with one touchdown and one interception on the day. It didn’t matter though, as Missouri dominated in all phases to get the win. Missouri ran for 259 yards, while adding a special teams touchdown and defensive touchdown in a dominant all-around performance. Junior running back Larry Roundtree III ran for 142 yards on 18 carries, scoring two of the team’s three rushing touchdowns.
One thing that’s been surprising about Bryant’s three-game tenure with the Tigers has been his lack of rushing productivity. The Tigers aren’t using Bryant the same way he was used at Clemson and the lack of run-pass options seems to have stifled his ability to effect the game with his legs. A shuffling offensive line hasn’t helped, but there’s still plenty of reason to believe in Bryant. He rushed for more than 900 yards and 16 touchdowns at Clemson and he has shown the ability to extend plays with his feet, while keeping his eyes downfield this year.
KELLY BRYANT IS ELITE🗣🗣🗣 pic.twitter.com/pNsJTjylnq
— Barstool Mizzou (@BarstoolMizzou) September 7, 2019
The Tigers defense shut down West Virginia two weeks ago and they shutout Southeast Missouri State last week, so they should come in a confident bunch. Missouri is allowing just 122 rushing yards per game and they’ve surrendered just 132.5 yards of total offense over the past two weeks.
Head coach Barry Odom will try and reverse a bad trend and that’s winning an SEC opener. That’s something the Tigers have not accomplished since 2014. Odom has also never beaten South Carolina since taking over as head coach in 2016.
“It’s a conference game, and we’ve got a lot of respect for the program and for (South Carolina head coach) Will (Muschamp), and we want to win,” Odom said. “It’s been a contested, close battle since I’ve been here in ‘15… Last year was back and forth throughout the entire course of the game, and hopefully we can get it into the fourth quarter and find a way to prepare well enough to put ourselves in that position to go win it late.”
- Gamecocks are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games on fieldturf.
- Gamecocks are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing more than 40 points in their previous game.
- Gamecocks are 5-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- Tigers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS win.
- Tigers are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
- Tigers are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing less than 275 total yards in their previous game.