It’s been a roll of the dice this year. Basically every unit Missouri has had — run offense, run defense, pass offense, pass defense, special teams — has been both good and terrible in 2016, and the Tigers have never really known in advance which would strike.
In a 31-21 loss to South Carolina, the dice landed on “pass defense” and “place-kicking.” The Tigers allowed Gamecock freshman Jake Bentley to complete 22 of 28 passes for 254 yards, and Mizzou missed two fourth-quarter field goals.
Drew Lock also threw two interceptions in or near the South Carolina end zone, and Dimetrios Mason handed Carolina a short score with a lost fumble deep in Mizzou territory. The Tigers outgained the Gamecocks, 465-428, but blown opportunities were killers. Missouri has been very good at finishing drives this season but wasn’t on Saturday.
After an early drought, the Tigers’ offense was pretty good. Lock threw for 302 yards and a touchdown, but the two picks were killer. Mason had eight catches for 88 yards, but the fumble was costly.
SC’s Deebo Samuel had another strong game, catching nine of 10 balls for 125 yards, and South Carolina converted eight of 17 third downs.
Missouri falls to 2-7 for the season. Not good, but at this point, the difference between, say, 2-10 and 4-8 doesn’t really matter. If you’re looking for reasons to hope for a turnaround in 2017, you’ve got the following: Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter rushed 24 times for 162 yards, Mason had another big game, Kendall Blanton had four catches for 42 yards and a touchdown, and linebackers Eric Beisel and Brandon Lee combined for 19.5 tackles and four TFLs. All of those players will be key contributors in 2017.
More tomorrow. Hang in there, Mizzou fans. It’ll get better. Eventually.