As a reminder, Will Muschamp is refusing to release a depth chart for this week’s game. So I’ve gone through older depth charts and stat sheets to figure out who is being the most productive -> who’s probably seeing the field the most -> relative tier ranking of the players at a given position. How fun! Thanks, Will! What a fun exercise! Here we go...
Aaron Sterling – JR: 5 tackles/2 TFLs/1 sack/2.5 run stuffs/1 PBU
Kingsley Enagbare – SO: 2.5 tackles/1 TFL/1 run stuff
Javon Kinlaw – SR: 7 tackles/3 TFLs/3 sacks/3 run stuffs
Zacch Pickens – FR: 4.5 tackles/1 run stuff
Kobe Smith – FR: 3.5 tackles
The matchup: Line yards vs. run stuffs
I want to be transparent with you all: Looking at the South Carolina depth chart and the production from these guys, I feel like the Tigers are walking into a trap. Missouri’s offensive line is 33rd in getting Tiger running backs 5-yards; Cocky’s d-line is 83rd. Missouri’s line has a sack rate of about 4% on both standard downs and passing downs; Cocky’s d-line is only getting sacks at 6% and 7%, respectively. Like... I’ve just been trained to be afraid of Will Muschamp’s defensive lines and... I’m not. And I feel like that means we’re going to be bushwhacked anyway. My own paranoia aside, if both teams perform as they have performed three-games in, the Missouri o-line has an advantage over the South Carolina d-line and that’s a good start to controlling this game.
D.J. Wonnum – SR: 8.5 tackles/3 TFLs/4 run stuffs
Daniel Fennell – SR: 2 tackles/1 TFL/1 run stuff
Sherrod Greene – JR: 3.5 tackles/1 TFL
Jahmar Brown – FR: x
Ernest Jones – SO: 16 tackles/2 TFLs/2.5 run stuffs/2 PBUs
Rosendo Louis, Jr. – SO: 2 tackles/1 TFL/1 run stuff/1 PBU
T.J. Brunson – SR: 12 tackles/0.5 TFLs
Damani Staley – JR: 1.5 tackles/1 TFL/1 run stuff
The matchup: Good explosions vs. bad explosions
Muschamp teams feature the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker/pass rusher, the “BUCK” position, that tends to create the most havoc amongst the defenders. This year’s candidate, D.J. Wonnum, has three tackles for loss and four run stuffs over three games while middle linebacker Ernest Jones has 2.5 run stuffs and 2 passes broken up. The rest of the linebacking corps hasn’t been that active, and even when they blitz, they’re only hitting home about 23% of the time (42nd). Again... doesn’t it feel like that shouldn’t be the case? Don’t you get a creeping feeling that they’ll finally act like a Muschamp-defense against Missouri? Regardless, Cocky has been prone to explosive plays, ranking 109th on standard downs and one-hundred and twenty-ninth (!!!) on passing downs. We’ll talk passing downs in more detail in the next matchup, but it looks like there are some prime opportunities for some big plays this week.
Jaycee Horn – SO: 6 tackles/2 TFLs/1 sack/2 run stuffs/3 PBUs/2 FFs
John Dixon – FR: 2.5 tackles/1 TFL/1 run stuff/1 INT
Jamyest Williams – JR: 10.5 tackles
J.T. Ibe – SR: 9 tackles/0.5 TFLs/1 PBU
R.J. Roderick – SO: 12.5 tackles/1 TFL/1 sack/1.5 run stuffs/1 INT
Jammie Robinson – FR: 6 tackles/1 PBU
Israel Mukuamu – SO: 12.5 tackles/0.5 run stuffs/1 PBU/1 INT
Cam Smith – FR: 5 tackles
The matchup: staying on schedule vs. passing downs
And here’s where Cocky shines: passing downs. 21st in limiting successful plays, 29th in stopping efficiency plays, 33rd in shutting down line yards, 23rd in defending third-and-long. Essentially, if you fall into a passing down (2nd/3rd and 5+ yards), you have a small chance of keeping the drive going. That small chance, by the way? It’s our friend, the explosive play! While being dynamite in passing downs, South Carolina does have an annoying habit of giving up HUGE plays (129th in passing downs explosiveness). The South Carolina safeties have been incredibly havoc-inducing — both in run support and defending the pass — but there is a chance that if they miss their mark then there’s nothing but wide open spaces for the rest of the field. That’s obviously a very stressful way for an offense to make a living, so you want to see the Tigers stay ahead of the chains and hope for a big play on third down, otherwise it’ll be a frustrating slug-fest.
Parker White – JR: 6-7 FGs (85.7%)/9-9 PATs (100%)
Joseph Charlton – SR: 7 punts/43.9 avg/2 fair catches/3 downed inside the 20
Shi Smith – JR: 7 returns/23.1 avg
Bryan Edwards – SR: 3 returns/22 avg/1 fair catch
The matchup: good returns vs. bad returns
Parker White has been nearly automatic through 3 weeks and Joseph Charlton has been a solid punter as well, but the Carolina punt defense team is giving up 12 yards per return, 42nd in the country. I’ve rambled on enough about the importance of gaining at least 10 yards per punt, and this week would be a solid chance to put that into play. That goes doubly, so with Shi Smith returning kicks and Bryan Edwards returning punts, the “hidden yardage” that the return team gains can help flip the field. While neither dude is super consistent, they’re still exceeding what I’d deem the “minimum expectation” amounts of yards. Watch our punt defense unit: if Edwards is busting 20-yarders at a time, the Missouri defense will consistently be put in bad positions.