Ahead of the Missouri-South Carolina game on Saturday, we spoke with Kody Timmers of Garnet & Black Attack to get the Gamecocks’ perspective ahead of the Mayors’ Cup.
1. I know Jake Bentley has been battling some injuries lately, but is there concern about his development? After his breakout freshman year, is it fair to say that his production has kind of leveled off?
KODY TIMMERS: Yeah, it’s definitely fair to say that. There’s a mounting level of worry in the fanbase right now that he just won’t ever be able to put it all together, because he’s been stagnating at best and regressing at worst since that promising freshman season. It’s frustrating because Bentley has all the physical tools; his biggest obstacles appear to be mental. He tends to start games so hyped up that he’s almost preemptively rattled, begins missing easy throws because of that, and then it all kind of snowballs from there. Now, in his defense, there have been other issues with the offense outside of his control. It’s not his fault that the running game hasn’t been consistent, or that normally sure-handed receivers have been dropping passes thrown right at their chests. But he’s also got six interceptions through four games this season, so if nothing else, he needs to take better care of the ball. Regardless, the Gamecocks don’t have anyone else to turn to, so he’s by far the best they’ve got.
2. Everyone knows about Deebo Samuel, but what’s the scouting report on WR Mike Edwards? It doesn’t seem like he gets the same attention. Why is that, with his level of production?
TIMMERS: That’s a good question, and I think it’s likely because Edwards just isn’t a flashy player. He’s the big body, go-up-and-get-it possession receiver type, and so he doesn’t tend to have a lot of yards after the catch because of how he’s fighting through traffic or climbing the ladder to get a reception. He had an uncharacteristically bad game against Kentucky, so hopefully he’s shaken that off.This offense doesn’t have a margin of error that can withstand one of its top receivers dropping catchable balls.
3. Which newcomers have stood out this year for the Gamecocks?
TIMMERS: Compared to previous years, there aren’t actually many freshman or first-year starters for South Carolina this season, but defensive back Jaycee Horn applies. He’s been surprisingly reliable in coverage and has helped pull what could have been a really suspect secondary together. Of course, being a freshman, he’s also made some boneheaded mistakes, like drawing a taunting penalty to give Kentucky a fresh set of downs when South Carolina had come up with a much-needed stop. Those are growing pains you’ve just got to live with.
4. Were there any common elements in the losses to Georgia and Kentucky? Did the Bulldogs and Wildcats attack any specific part of South Carolina on offense or defense?
TIMMERS: Both Georgia and Kentucky took advantage of the Gamecocks’ shaky run defense. Georgia, of course, was much more successful with its truckload of blue-chip running backs, but Kentucky was able to make its share of plays as well. South Carolina actually did a decent job with Benny Snell (he averaged under five yards a carry, with 99 yards total and a long of only 16 yards), but the Gamecocks struggle with mobile quarterbacks and Terry Wilson was able to scramble effectively to keep drives alive. I think Missouri has an underrated running game, so that certainly concerns me.
5. Finally, how do you see this game playing out?
TIMMERS: Man, it’s so hard to say; I feel like I still haven’t gotten a good read on what this South Carolina team is actually bringing to the table. I don’t think they’re as bad as they looked against Georgia and Kentucky, but they still need to show they can be successful against teams that aren’t Coastal Carolina or Vanderbilt. I’ll give the Gamecocks the edge since they’re at home, and because they tend to perform much better in games that don’t have all the hype and hoopla that surrounds a ranked opponent. But I do consider this a toss-up and would not be surprised if Missouri managed to walk away with the win. Either way, I see a 28-24, 31-28 type of score.Compared to previous years, there aren’t actually many freshman or first-year starters for South Carolina this season, but defensive back Jaycee Horn applies. He’s been surprisingly reliable in coverage and has helped pull what could have been a really suspect secondary together. Of course, being a freshman, he’s also made some boneheaded mistakes, like drawing a taunting penalty to give Kentucky a fresh set of downs when South Carolina had come up with a much-needed stop. Those are growing pains you’ve just got to live with.
For the Rock M Nation perspective, check out this Q&A I did with Garnet & Black Attack.