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This is not the South Carolina offense Missouri fans are used to seeing

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Missouri will have to deal with a pretty stout zone read game against South Carolina, though one would assume that the freshman quarterback will be limited when the 'Cocks fall into passing downs.

Todd Bennett/Getty Images

Offense

QB
Lorenzo Nunez (6'3, 210, Fr.) -- 16-for-27, 202 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 1 sack (6.9 yards/att.); 29 carries, 248 yards (8.6), 1 TD
Perry Orth (6'1, 203, Jr.) -- 21-for-42, 269 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 2 sacks (5.9 yards/att.); 4 carries, 11 yards (2.8), 1 TD
Michael Scarnecchia (6'4, 210, RSFr.)

Connor Mitch was ineffective, then got hurt. Former walk-on Perry Orth was ineffective. So Steve Spurrier, never one to think too hard before switching signal callers, went with the third man up, true freshman Lorenzo Nunez. With Drew Lock starting for Missouri, Nunez is the grizzly veteran among starting QBs ... with his one career start. It was a good one, though! Against a strangely lifeless UCF squad, Nunez completed 12 of 22 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns, but more importantly, he gave the run game some life, carrying 18 times for 123 yards.

After struggling early -- first seven possessions: two field goals, a missed field goal, and four punts -- South Carolina surged past UCF, scoring on four consecutive possessions to ease out to a 31-14 win.

South Carolina has been as bad as Mizzou at finishing drives in the end zone -- points per scoring opportunity: 3.91 (117th) -- but in Nunez, the 'Cocks have a nice dual-threat guy, something we're not necessarily used to seeing from a Spurrier team. (Connor Shaw was a dual-threat, but he didn't run nearly as frequently, and he was a better passer.)

TB
Brandon Wilds (6'2, 220, Sr.) -- 35 carries, 181 yards (5.2); 8 targets, 6 catches, 66 yards (8.3) *DOUBTFUL*
Shon Carson (5'8, 206, Sr.) -- 23 carries, 153 yards (6.7), 1 TD; 1 target, 0 catches
David Williams (6'1, 222, So.) -- 35 carries, 114 yards (3.3); 3 targets, 0 catches

FB
Rivers Bedenbaugh (6'2, 245, So.)

Brandon Wilds is listed as doubtful with a rib injury, and David Williams, a former four-star recruit, has struggled. But Shon Carson, one of those "hasn't he been there for 16 years?" guys, has been able to provide a little bit of a punch, and South Carolina's read option game should be pretty strong moving forward. We don't know much about the passing game, though.

WR
Pharoh Cooper (5'11, 207, Jr.) -- 31 targets, 17 catches, 220 yards (7.1), 2 TD; 12 carries, 81 yards (6.8)
Matrick Belton (6'4, 209, Jr.) -- 4 targets, 4 catches, 18 yards (4.5)

WR
Deebo Samuel (6'0, 202, RSFr.) -- 9 targets, 3 catches, 30 yards (3.3)
D.J. Neal (6'3, 193, Fr.) -- 4 targets, 1 catch, 15 yards (3.8)
Shamier Jeffery (6'1, 189, Sr.) -- 5 targets, 1 catch, 9 yards (1.8)

WR
Terry Google (6'4, 226, RSFr.) -- 2 targets, 2 catches, 39 yards (19.5)
Carlton Heard (6'0, 182, Sr.) -- 7 targets, 4 catches, 63 yards (9.0)

TE
Jerell Adams (6'6, 231, Sr.) -- 17 targets, 9 catches, 132 yards (7.8), 1 TD
Jacob August (6'6, 258, RSFr.) -- 4 targets, 4 catches, 38 yards (9.5), 1 TD
Kyle Markway (6'4, 243, Fr.)
Hayden Hurst (6'5, 252, Fr.)

That Pharoh Cooper (11.3 yards per target in 2014) is averaging only 7.1 yards per target tells you a lot about the state of the SC passing game. Orth and Mitch combined to complete just 48 percent of their passes, and Nunez hit only 55 percent (12-for-22) in his first start. But Nunez started to figure things out. He was 2-for-6 for 16 yards to Cooper in the first half against UCF but completed two of two for 53 in the second as the Gamecock offense got rolling.

Mizzou fans (and players) know how good Cooper can be, but the biggest concern might come at the tight end position. Steve Spurrier is one of the best at figuring out what you're not good at and doing it until you give him a reason to stop. He presumably watched film of the Kentucky game (call it a hunch) and saw UK's success on intermediate passes up the seam. Granted, we don't know if Nunez can make the passes Towles made with regularity, but thus far SC's two tight ends have caught 13 of 21 passes for 170 yards and two scores. They've proven more than UK's had heading into last week.

LT
Brandon Shell (6'6, 328, Sr.) -- 40 career starts
Christian Pellage (6'6, 314, Fr.)

LG
Mike Matulis (6'5, 293, Sr.) -- 14 career starts
D.J. Park (6'4, 325, So.)

C
Alan Knott (6'4, 270, So.) -- 10 career starts *DOUBTFUL*
Zack Bailey (6'6, 320, Fr.) -- 1 career start
Clayton Stadnik (6'3, 240, Jr.)

RG
Will Sport (6'5, 295, Sr.) -- 15 career starts
Donell Stanley (6'4, 320, RSFr.)

RT
Mason Zandi (6'9, 314, Jr.) -- 5 career starts
Blake Camper (6'8, 295, Fr.)

South Carolina has been strangely awful in short-yardage situations (power success rate: 44 percent, 123rd) but has been otherwise solid. That's a minor victory considering injuries have cost the Gamecocks two different centers. This isn't a great line, and Mizzou probably has the advantage here, but it's not immense.

Defense

DE
David Johnson (6'1, 240, So.) -- 3.0 tackles, 1 QBH
Boosie Whitlow (6'3, 240, Fr.) -- 3.5 tackles, 2 TFL (1 sack), 3 QBH
Gerald Dixon (6'2, 269, Sr.) -- 4.0 tackles (0.5 TFL) *2 games*
Shameik Blackshear (6'4, 250, Fr.)

DT
Dante Sawyer (6'3, 291, So.) -- 6.0 tackles, 2 TFL (2 sacks), 1 QBH
Taylor Stallworth (6'2, 308, So.) -- 4.0 tackles
Kelsey Griffin (6'2, 316, Jr.) -- 4.5 tackles, 1.5 TFL (1.5 sacks)

NT
Gerald Dixon Jr. (6'3, 327, Sr.) -- 9.0 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FF
Phillip Dukes (6'3, 319, Sr.) -- 5.0 tackles, 1 TFL (1 sack), 1 FR
Abu Lamin (6'4, 326, Jr.)

DE
Marquavius Lewis (6'3, 264, Jr.) -- 5.0 tackles, 1 PBU, 1 QBH
Cedrick Cooper (6'2, 248, Sr.) -- 6.5 tackles, 1 TFL
Darius English (6'6, 225, Jr.) -- 8.0 tackles, 2 TFL (1.5 sacks)

Spurrier signed approximately 62 defensive linemen in his February class (and brought in a new defensive coordinator) with the hopes of energizing a unit that lost all effectiveness last year. Has it worked? ...sort of?

  • Rushing S&P+ Rk: 109th in 2014, 95th in 2015
  • Passing S&P+ Rk: 71st in 2014, 68th in 2015
  • Standard Downs S&P+ Rk: 111th in 2014, 103rd in 2015
  • Passing Downs S&P+: 69th in 2014, 42nd in 2015

That is undeniably across-the-board improvement. It's also undeniably meager improvement. South Carolina can actually occasionally rush the passer (125th in passing downs sack rate last year, 92nd this year), with three of the team's seven sacks coming from newcomers (Dante Sawyer, Boosie Whitlow). In all, though, there are only four newcomers among the 13 players listed above -- Sawyer (whom Mizzou recruited very hard out of high school), Marquavius Lewis, Whitlow, and Shameik Blackshear.

One assumes we'll get a pretty good look at SC's pass rush on Saturday. When you're going up against a true freshman with potential sack issues (we don't know for sure about that, obviously, but he took a lot of touch sacks in fall camp and has been sacked 7% of the time on his pass attempts this year), the book says attack. Spurrier and coordinator Jon Hoke will probably want to do that, but we'll see if they have enough confidence in the rush to do so.

MLB
T.J. Holloman (6'2, 231, Jr.) -- 8.0 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INT, 1 PBU, 2 QBH
Bryson Allen-Williams (6'1, 233, So.) -- 4.5 tackles, 0.5 TFL

WLB
Skai Moore (6'2, 218, Jr.) -- 33.0 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 INT, 3 PBU
Jonathan Walton (6'0, 235, Jr.) -- 17.5 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 1 FF

SLB
Larenz Bryant (6'0, 220, Jr.) -- 0.5 tackles, 1 QBH
Ernest Hawkins (6'1, 224, So.) -- 0.5 tackles

It's been funny watching South Carolina fans complaining about how the 'Cocks can't defend a slant and Missouri fans complaining about how the Tigers don't throw slants. Regardless, SC's linebackers have been pretty active and exciting, particularly in pass coverage. Skai Moore had two huge picks against North Carolina, and Moore and T.J. Holloman have combined for a healthy three TFLs, 5 INTs (more than 89 FBS teams), and 4 PBUs. The slant might be an issue, but they're still doing a decent job of patrolling the middle of the field.

SPR
T.J. Gurley (5'10, 193, Sr.) -- 16.5 tackles, 1 QBH
Jasper Sasser (6'0, 210, So.)

CB
Al Harris Jr. (5'11, 163, So.) -- 11.5 tackles, 1 PBU
Rashad Fenton (5'10, 180, Fr.)
Chaz Elder (6'2, 209, Jr.) -- 1.0 tackles

FS
Isaiah Johnson (6'0, 209, Sr.) -- 19.0 tackles, 2 PBU
Chris Moody (6'1, 215, Jr.) -- 1.0 tackles

SS
Jordan Diggs (6'0, 209, Jr.) -- 10.5 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF
D.J. Smith (5'11, 195, So.) -- 2.0 tackles

CB
Rico McWilliams (5'11, 186, Jr.) -- 8.0 tackles
Jamari Smith (5'10, 200, So.)
Toure Boyd (5'11, 180, Jr.)

The linebackers are indeed active. The DBs, however? SC ranks 128th in DB Havoci Rate (1.2%). The Gamecocks did a nice job of sticking to Mizzou's outmanned, injured receiving corps for most of last year's game, and there's no Bud Sasser to bail the Tigers out this time, but here's where Drew Lock's beautiful, beautiful right arm could pay off. There will be windows of space for him to fit the ball through, and he's proven he can do that.

(And yes, that's Kansas transfer Isaiah Johnson starting at safety. BORDER WAR.)

Special Teams

K
Elliott Fry (6'0, 164, Jr.) -- 7-7 PAT, 6-6 FG under 40, 3-6 FG over 40
Landon Ard (5'9, 182, Sr.) -- 21 kickoffs, 63.0 average, 14 touchbacks

P
Sean Kelly (5'10, 189, Jr.) -- 17 punts, 43.4 average, 4 fair caught, 8 inside 20

KR
Shon Carson (5'8, 204, Sr.) -- 10 KR, 25.6 average (long: 51)
Rod Talley (5'10, 201, So.) -- 1 KR, 16 yards

PR
Pharoh Cooper (5'11, 207, Jr.) -- 5 PR, 10.0 average (long: 24)

I'm going to say it's not a bad thing that most of Landon Ard's kickoffs are touchbacks. While I'm curious what John Gibson and perhaps Finis Stribling IV or Ray Wingo can do in kick returns, Mizzou's miserable track record of even getting to the 20-yard line on returns say KICK AWAY, LANDON.

This is a pretty good special teams unit overall. Sean Kelly's got a nice leg on punts, and there's a chance we see a fight-to-a-draw field position battle like the one we saw last week. If that's the case, and both teams are starting drives pretty consistently inside the 20 or 25, then turnovers and easy-score opportunities will play an enormous role.