South Carolina was back at practice Tuesday in preparation for the undefeated No. 5 Missouri Tigers. The Tigers are currently first in the SEC East race with a 3-0 conference record, and the No. 21 Gamecocks need a win this weekend to keep their SEC Championship hopes alive.
“They’re a good team,” said linebackers coach Kirk Botkin of the Tigers. “Probably the best skill group overall that we’ve seen thus far. Their O-line is playing really good. They’ve got a bunch of big guys up there that are physical and look strong. Their backs run really hard. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
The Tigers did not see much of a drop off when they had to go to backup quarterback Maty Mauk to replace James Franklin. “He’s a good player. I know coming out of high school he was all-everything up in Ohio. He made a lot of good throws versus Florida, a lot of good deep ball throws and he’s a good runner too. He pulled the ball down a couple of times and outran some of the guys from Florida. That stuff stood out on film. He didn’t get rattled a whole bunch. Florida hit him a couple of times and he didn’t get rattled. He sat in the pocket and threw the ball. They’re going to do what they do, that’s why they’re as good as they are right now,” added Botkin.
Coach Botkin has seen improvement in the play of the linebackers. “I think we’ve gotten better week-by-week-by-week. Still it’s consistency. The young guys are understanding the whole defense a little bit more, understanding where their help is a little bit more. At times we look dang good, sometimes we don’t.”
Among those who were dressed in yellow “no practice” jerseys were offensive guard Ronald Patrick (ankle), center Cody Waldrop (ankle), defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles (knee), safety Chaz Elder (concussion) and defensive tackle Gerald Dixon Jr. (ankle). Quarterback Connor Shaw (knee) was dressed in the usual garnet jersey that the offensive team wears, but did not have on shoulder pads.
Defensive line coach Deke Adams, defensive backs coach Grady Brown, defensive end Chaz Sutton, and linebacker Kaiwan Lewis also met with the media after practice, and you can listen to their takes on Tennessee and Missouri by clicking on the links below.
Saturday’s game is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
AUDIO: Deke Adams [2:42]
AUDIO: Grady Brown [4:59]
AUDIO: Chaz Sutton [1:13]
AUDIO: Kaiwan Lewis [1:06]