USC suffered a head-scratching loss at Missouri Saturday 34-14 that drops the Gamecocks to 0-2 in the SEC, 1-3 overall and 0-3 against FBS level opponents. One week after the offense gained much respect by moving the ball well against Alabama’s vaunted defense, freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski looked his age and the offense looked stuck in the mud. Despite that, the defense kept the game within reach until a backbreaking 100 yard pass interception return put the Tigers up 31-14 late in the third. That was the second of two defensive touchdowns for Missouri, equalling the number of offensive touchdowns scored by the Gamecocks.
Here’s my POSTGAME RECAP from Missouri’s Memorial Stadium.
Some of the key takeaways from Missouri’s win
- Takeaways were key. The Tigers recovered a fumble for a score and returned an interception for another. Those 14 points were too much for the Gamecocks’ struggling offense to overcome.
- After lighting up Alabama’s defense for other 300 passing yards last week, Ryan Hilinski had 3 passing yards in the first half and 155 for the game. He was dealing with a sore elbow but he was cleared by doctors to play according to Will Muschamp.
- The offense had no rhyme or reason. There was none of the creativity in the gameplan that was on display against Alabama. No exotic formations. No trick plays. Just basic RPOs. One questionable decision came late in the first quarter after USC recovered a fumble at the Mizzou 23. The game was still very much in play, but Dakereon Joyner was sent out at quarterback, and he lost 9 yards on the first two plays. Hilinski came back in and threw an incomplete pass, and Parker White then missed a 50 yard field goal. A wasted opportunity to say the least.
- The defense is not totally blameless. The Gamecocks scored on the first play of the second half, Bryan Edwards taking a short pass and going 75 yards, to pull to within 17-14. A defensive stop would have really shifted momentum. Instead, the Tigers went 75 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown to go back up by 10. The Gamecocks did answer that with a 72 yard, 14 play drive to the Missouri 3, but that’s when Hilinski threw his 100 yard pick six.
- Bryan Edwards is playing as well as any receiver in the country. He’s trying to will his teammates to victories, but it’s not enough. He finished with 6 catches for 113 yards and that 75 yard score. He now has 19 career touchdowns, tied for third best all-time at USC.
- The Gamecocks managed just 16 rushing yards. Rico Dowdle and Tavien Feaster combined for just 14 carries. Against Alabama, they combined for 22 carries and 139 yards. Again, hard to figure.
- Linebacker TJ Brunson led the defense with 10.5 stops. Kingsley Enagbare also had an impressive game with 6 tackles including 2 behind the line.
- Joseph Charlton showed off his big leg, unfortunately for the Gamecocks he had to show it off too much. He averaged over 53 yards on 8 punts.
- Final Stats
Will Muschamp postgame press conference
WR Bryan Edwards on QB Ryan Hilinski’s struggles
TE Kyle Markway didn’t notice anything unusual from Missouri’s defense/QB Dakereon Joyner
RB Rico Dowdle reacts to the play of the offense/Center Donell Stanley