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Film Room: Breaking down Mizzou's second half defense vs South Carolina

Mizzou's second half defense matched it's first, giving up only 10 points and keeping the Tigers in the game. After going down 20-7 late in the 4th quarter, they ramped up the intensity to preserve the 21-20 margin.

Turns out I jumped the gun a bit on yesterday's post. South Carolina ran one more offensive possession before half-time. it included at least two screens.

Final Drive of the first half

1st and 10

Brandon Wilds takes the halfback screen 12 yards. I forgot to diagram it but Harold Brantley drops back, as Mizzou is wont to do, but the screen goes away from him, he still manages to chase down the ball and get a hand on the runner's ankle. Kentrell Brothers gets blocked by the wide receiver and Kenya Dennis comes up to try and make the tackle but Wilds stutter steps in space and is able to get past him for the first down gain.

1st and 10 again

South Carolina runs the hurry up no huddle with the same screen concept, this time to Brandon Wilds inside. Harold Brantley drops back just like before but is still a step slow to read the screen and the left guard successfully blocks him out of the play. Mizzou still has to respect the deep post, but Kentrell Brothers evades the blocker and comes up to prevent Wilds from getting the first down and with the help of Markus Golden, who has hustled back, they keep the running back from going out of bounds.


South Carolina calls a timeout, which is good for Mizzou. It gives them a chance to regroup.

Out of the timeout, on 2nd and 1 South Carolina inexplicably goes to the wildcat with Pharoh Cooper and is unable to gain a single yard thanks to the play of Shane Ray and Markus Golden who seem to have been keyed as to what to do in this situation. Standing up their blockers and forming a wall that forces Cooper to stretch the play wide, Shane Ray sheds his blocker to make the tackle. Textbook.

South Carolina tries to run a hurry up run up the middle on 3rd and 1, but they weren't set and get called for a false start which makes the next play a 3rd and 6, perfect opportunity for another screen or option pitch to the outside right?

3rd and 6

I guess not. Spurrier calls his favorite play for Thompson here, the slot receiver through the middle of the field. I believe it's Shaq Roland who can't get a handle on the pass and the drive dies.

Notable here is that the defensive line does their inside/out stunt, bring Golden and Harris inside from the end positions, which coincidentally results in Charles Harris colliding with Brandon Wilds coming out of the backfield - but Thompson is already loading up to throw so it's unlikely this would have throw off the play.

So Mizzou's defense gave up a couple moderate gains to the screen but it didn't hurt them as South Carolina was forced to try and pick up yards quickly and the screens were wasting more time than was efficient. A bonus was that Mizzou got to see more screens and read them and limit them after having given up a big one on South Carolina's first score.

Second Half

First Drive of Second Half

South Carolina starts with slot deep throw - incomplete, next play is that option pitch to Davis, but Markus Golden is all over it, 3rd and 9 is a deep ball to Nick Jones up the sideline that's way overthrown. Two bad plays by the offense, one good play by Mizzou's defense. Punt.

Second drive of Second Half

South Carolina starts with Mike Davis run to the right, Michael Scherer blitzes and gets backfield penetration and then Kentrell Brothers forces Davis out of bounds for a loss of two yards. 2nd and 12 is a short hook to Anderson the tight end for gain of 8 yards.

3rd and 4

I guess I need an explanation from you, the reader, about this play. Mizzou slants the defensive line LEFT except for the RDE Charles Harris who penetrates upfield. The hole opens in the gap that Matt Hoch vacates by crossing the face of the center to engage the right guard, which allows the LG and C to get their blocks on Duron Singleton and Michael Scherer in the second level.

If not for Kenya Dennis (who is lined up 6-7 yards off), this play probably goes the yard. Dennis sees the run coming to him and the wide receiver who comes up to block him falls over in embarrassing fashion. Dennis' hit on Davis is also pretty damn solid and worth a look.

My point is: why is the line slanting the way it did? If the line slants the opposite way (RIGHT), not only does Mike Davis have to false-step in the backfield to go to the right, he has to run toward Scherer and Brothers instead of Scherer and Singleton.

The next plays is a dive up the middle for 2 yards, then a massive defensive bust.

2nd and 8

Steckel decides to call a blitz here.

A combination of an intricate blitz by Mizzou and smart offensive play calling resulted in a blown coverage and Nick Jones gaining nearly 50 yards and putting South Carolina in perfect scoring position.

It's hard to tell from the GIF, and none of the camera angles I could find were satisfactory to display what happens. I'll attempt to explain.

The RDE, Charles Harris drops back in coverage while both linebackers blitz toward the right guard. I don't know the playcall but Nick Jones comes from the inside slot. I get the feeling Aarion Penton was supposed to drop back and let Charles Harris or Braylon Webb cover the middle zone, but he chases the tight end into the middle of the field which is why Jones is able to get so wide open behind him.

Blown coverages happen every once in awhile and Pention is still learning on the job. Maybe if he or his family reads this they can correct me.

The next first and goal is play action to the tight end, Harold Brantley applies pressure and Shane Ray drops back into coverage but Dylan Thompson shorts the pass and the pass is dropped. As we've seen before, that's what happens when you force Thompson to move his feet.

The next play offers Aarion Penton a chance to redeem himself. He's brought on a corner blitz and tackles Thompson who is trying to run the draw but ends up getting sacked for a 6 yard loss.

This playcall suggests to me that Dave Steckle wants to give his players a chance to restore their confidence after a blown play, which is crucial for the maintenance and development of player psyche.

Also take note that Shane Ray is way too fast for the left tackle to guard him as he gets beat inside and it's because Ray's pressure up the middle that forces Thompson to run. The announcers said this was a QB draw but watching from this angle I'm not so sure.

The next play is a just another example of why Shane Ray is one of the most dominant players on the field any given day.

Mizzou takes advantage of South Carolina's relatively inexperienced center who initially engages Lucas Vincent, allowing Ray to penetrate the A gap and get right in Thompson's face. You simply can not guard Shane Ray one on one. Markus Golden displays why he's a terrifying force coming off the edge as he fakes outside before ripping inside and racing Ray to the QB.

All this pressure forces Thompson to roll to his left. Harold Brantley is the beneficiary as he shed's Brandon Wild's block and brings Thompson down and forces South Carolina to waste the big play and kick a field goal.

Tackling in the SECondary

South Carolina's next drive starts with a run on 1st and 10 that picks up 7 yards, another run that picks up 2, then a QB sneak for the first down. The following 1st and 10 is a bubble screen to the right that Ian Simon initially has wrapped up for a minimal gain, but Nick Jones spins out of the tackle and gains 6 yards.

This isn't the first missed tackle I've seen out of Ian Simon and I've become a bit disappointed in his play. I had high hopes for him based on his speed and size but his tackling has been poor form whenever I see him. That's a technique issue that needs to be corrected by safeties Coach Alex Grinch. Matt White last year and the issues with tackling so far this year aren't impressing me much.

The style of defense encourages the back seven to make plays in space, the linebackers are coming along with experience, but aside from the solid play from Braylon Webb and the occasional good play of Duron Singleton, there remains 3-4 players who are giving up extra yards purely due to poor tackling. #FITFO. So ends my rant.

A fortunate false start by South Carolina's tight end and pressure from Markus Golden on a 3rd and 6 rollout by Thompson forces another punt.

The Fourth Quarter

South Carolina starts their first drive in the fourth quarter with a run up the middle for 2 yards, then again for 4 yards, then a missed pass to the tight end and a punt.

The next drive was almost the nail in Mizzou's coffin.

Brandon Wilds for a gain of 9 yards straight up the middle on first down, the defensive line slants left. 2nd and 1, gain of 6 yards on a Brandon Wilds run up the middle, the defensive line slants left. Dylan Thompson keeper left, gain of 2 yards on 1st down. Mike Davis outside run gain of 4 on 2nd down but it's well defended.

3rd and 4 is a bubble screen left, Aarion Penton is blocked out of the play and Nick Jones gains the first down. Brandon Wilds run for 10 yards on 1st and 10 right up the middle. Brandon Wilds tackled for a loss by Lucas Vincent on a run inside on the next 1st and 10.

2nd and 11 "The Nail"

Markus Golden nearly gets to Thompson on the exact same throw Thompson had been throwing all game, except this time Pharoh Cooper was matched up against Clarence Green instead of Kentrell Brothers. I really do think it was a simple as that.

South Carolina now leads 20-7 with 7 minutes and 25 seconds left in the game.


South Carolina, up 20-14, comes out with 6 minutes and 49 seconds left in the game ...and they run the wildcat with Mike Davis to the right side? No gain. This is an incredibly confusing decision by the Head Ball Coach. Their previous drive was very successful pounding Mizzou up the gut with Brandon Wilds, then hitting them over the top. Why did he go away from that when trying to salt away the win?

Mizzou can only defend what's thrown at them, so we can't complain. South Carolina had been fairly successful with the wildcat versus Vanderbilt, but it had been Pharoh Cooper, not Mike Davis who'd ran the ball. The wildcat in general hadn't been successful for South Carolina so far tonight, so I'm just plain confused why he choose to start the most critical drive of the game with it.

2nd and 10

South Carolina tries to run the screen play to Brandon Wilds but Kentrell Brothers, playing man coverage and diagnosing the play the whole way, immediately steps up and makes the tackle for a loss of two yards. It really helped that the left guard completely ignores Brothers coming downfield, but by golly I'll take it.

3rd and 12 is a throw to the tight end Anderson running a short hook on the left. Aarion Penton, closes quickly and takes Anderson's legs out, forcing a punt.


Final Drive

Mizzou is now up 21-20. It's the final countdown.

1st and 10

The Skycam angle is a bit too busy looking at the fans in the upper deck to properly catch this crucial first down (*ahem*) but the X-receiver runs a hook route to the first down line but he's bracketed by Aarion Penton and Ian Simon while Kentrell Brothers has Mike Davis coming out of the backfield.

At the snap, Markus Golden (DE) and Shane Ray (DT) do the twist, as do Charles Harris (DE) and Harold Brantley (DT). Brantley is there to deflect the pass into the flat, actually can't get much pressure and nearly falls down. Dylan Thompson rolls out to his right hoping to extend the play and find someone open. He forces a tight pass into Nick Jones but the catch is broken up by Kenya Dennis. Michael Scherer also plays glue-like coverage to his man.

2nd and 10

Again with with the Rush Ends on the left side of the defensive line, but this time Harold Brantley drops back as we've seen him do time and again. Mike Davis chips on Markus Golden coming off the edge then sits down, but he's no threat thanks to Harold Brantley AND Michael Scherer waiting underneath to prevent the drag or screen pass.

Dylan Thompson unleashes the same pass he's been trying all damn game.


Oh. Dear. God.

That close huh? From the Skycam view it looks like Braylon Webb had a much better angle at the interception, but from the normal feed that looked like a Prayer at Jordan Hare type tipped pass gone for a touchdown situation.

Regardless, it was Braylon Webb making a fantastic play on the ball in the air that prevented a crucial conversion and put South Carolina in an even deeper hole.

3rd and 10

South Carolina came out in with an empty backfield so Mizzou didn't have to worry about the screen on 3rd and 10, which opened up their linebackers to play shallow to deep coverage. Scherer on the left side and Brothers on the right, each reacting to what the inside most receiver was doing.

Brothers drops very deep since there's nothing forcing him to respect the underneath middle. Perhaps he's also a reading the QB's eyes because Thompson had just thrown a very similar pass to the inside slot receiver. If you watch the GIF, Braylon Webb is damn sure reading Thompson's eyes - if Brothers doesn't tip the pass I'm positive Webb intercepts this one.

One further note, all those timeouts South Carolina had to call before Mizzou rammed in the go ahead score? They really hurt Spurrier and his play calling on this drive - he couldn't run the ball with only one timeout and 70+ yards to go, so he was forced to throw.

It's always nice to force a team to be one dimensional, in this case that dimension is still pretty dangerous but Mizzou also had 4 games of film on Thompson and Spurrier's tendencies, chief among them is the desire to throw to the slot receiver down the middle of the field.

4th and 10

There's a lot diagrammed on this play because I think it all bore looking at. We've seen Dave Steckel's defenses drop the defensive tackle into coverage in numerous other key situations, so why not again on 4th and must stop? Sure enough, Harold Brantley drops from the defensive tackle spot to cover the shallow middle zone while Shane Ray and Markus Golden rush the QB from the right DT/DE positions.

South Carolina runs a drag route from the right slot receiver, which is covered by Brantley. South Carolina's Mike Davis fills the space vacated by the slot receiver after providing a chip block on Markus Golden, but he's well covered by Darvin Ruise from his SLB position.

Kentrell Brothers has the Y-slot receiver, who runs an inside slant to about the first down line then turns around an looked to get open in the whole between Michael Scherer and Brother's zone coverage, but a combination of Brantley underneath and Brother's keeping close prevents Thompson from being able to target him.

This all forces Thompson to make the most difficult pass. Pharoh Cooper runs past the first down line, then cuts to the sideline, the deep out. Thompson has the arm to make this throw, especially with no pressure in his face. He rolls out left and unleashes a missile.

Here's the play from the Skycam angle, which let's you see from the QB's point of view:

That's a very high degree of difficulty throw and Aarion Penton played it pretty damn well, in conjunction with Brothers underneath and Ian Simon on the inside. Thompson had to throw it high to get over Brothers underneath, which gave Penton extra room to come over the top and knock the pass down. If it had been more of a bullet along the sideline that Cooper could have toed the line before falling out of bounds perhaps this is a catch and a conversion.

The sideline penalty is another matter. Listen AMP, I know you were a bit ... Amped up after the play, but considering the circumstances, maybe just turn around and celebrate in the middle of the field rather than at the South Carolina bench.