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Stat Breakdown: Missouri’s defense picked apart against South Carolina

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The Tigers let Michael Scarnecchia have a career-day, the running back unit picked up the slack and other takeaways from Saturday’s stat sheet.

NCAA Football: Missouri at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Once news broke that South Carolina’s Jake Bentley would not be available against Missouri on Saturday, the Tigers’ defenders must have celebrated.

Instead of facing a quarterback who is averaging 11 yards per completion this season, they were up against backup quarterback Michael Scarnecchia, a senior who had only thrown 13 passes in his collegiate career. But, as was the case with David Blough in Missouri’s Week 3 win over Purdue, the secondary struggled to contain the backup.

Scarnecchia carved up the Tigers in the air, completing 20-35 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns. He thoroughly outplayed Drew Lock, who completed just 17-36 passes for 204 yards and two interceptions.

Even when the Tigers took the lead on a Tucker McCann field goal, Scarnecchia looked calm and collected on the ensuing drive, complete four of seven passes for 54 yards to set up Parker White’s game-winner.

There were multiple opportunities to force turnovers that Missouri defenders literally let slip out of their hands, including a dropped ball by DeMarkus Acy that could have iced the game.

After another week of poor defensive effort against the passing game, the Tigers are now left with more questions than answers on how to address the secondary.

Running back trio stands out once again

It is not every day that Missouri’s ground game highlights its attack, but that is exactly what happened against South Carolina.

The unit consisting of Damarea Crockett, Larry Rountree III and Tyler Badie all had success against the Gamecocks, with the three averaging at least 6.9 yards per carry apiece. Crockett and Rountree also combined for the Tigers’ only three touchdowns of the day, giving Missouri some life when the passing game faltered.

It took a few weeks for all three backs to figure things out, but over the last two games, the trio has picked up the pace. They each averaged over four yards per carry against Georgia to combine for 150 yards, and then they upped the ante with 272 yards on the ground Saturday.

Crockett, Rountree and Badie also each had rushes for at least 25 yards, providing the boost Missouri desperately needed when rain started pouring.

NCAA Football: Missouri at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Other notable Week 6 stats

  • For the second week in a row, Lock was held without a touchdown pass. He had a couple of opportunities for one throughout the game — including when Albert Okwuegbunam was wide open in the end zone in the third quarter — but Lock just could not get a completion. For reference, this is the first time Lock has failed to record a passing touchdown in consecutive games since back-to-back losses to LSU and Florida in 2016, and it is just his fourth streak of this kind since he was named the starting quarterback in 2015.
  • While the Tigers could not shut down the passing game, they gobbled up the Gamecocks on the ground. South Carolina could only muster 128 yards on 47 attempts, and its two main ball carriers, Rico Dowdle and Ty’Son Williams, recorded just 2.5 and 3.4 yards per carry, respectively.
  • McCann did everything he could to keep Missouri in the game. The junior was good on five of six field goals — including a career-long 57-yarder to give the Tigers the lead with just over a minute remaining — his only miss coming during the torrential downpour in the third quarter. Missouri did lose by just two points, though, so that might be the kick that keeps McCann up at night.