This game was big for Missouri. It might have been bigger for Barry Odom. Barry Odom had not defeated South Carolina which he would have to do Saturday if Missouri was going to have the kind of season many were predicting. The win improves the Tigers record to 3-1 and gets the conference season off to a 1-0 start.
Player of the Game:
The Missouri defense earns the Player of the Game honors in this game. The unit as a whole was better than in any game they have played this year. We won’t count the Southeast Missouri State game, ok? Missouri held South Carolina to 16 yards rushing on 24 carries. 16! The Gamecocks had 135 yards rushing against Alabama a week ago.
It wasn’t just the rushing defense though. The Missouri defense held South Carolina freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski to 3 yards passing in the first half. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Yes, Hilinski is a freshman and this was his first conference road game but that’s ridiculous. He threw for 324 yards against Alabama.
Ronnell Perkins put the game away with a 100-yard interception return. Missouri led 17-7 at the half. Ryan Hilinski threw a short pass that went for 75 yards and a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the second half to cut the Tigers’ lead to 17-14. Missouri replied with a ten play drive of its own touchdown to go up 24-14. South Carolina then marched down the field again. On third and goal at the 3 yard line, Ryan Hilinski threw an interception that Ronnell Perkins returned 100 yards for a touchdown. The score put Missouri up 31-14 and South Carolina was never the same. The Gamecocks wouldn’t score again.
Kicker Tucker McCann is a unique kicker. He kicks field goals and punts. In this game he punted five times and four of them were downed inside the 20. His longest punt was 52 yards. He was also 2-for-3 with field goals and 4-for-4 with extra points. McCann affects a game more than any other kicker in football, college or pro.
Ronnell Perkins had a huge interception for a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown to put the game away for Missouri.
LB Cale Garrett led a terrific defensive effort in tackles with six, five of them solo tackles. He also recovered a fumble.
Room for Improvement:
Kelly Bryant struggled with his accuracy, especially in the first half. He was off-target even when not being pressured. He threw an interception deep in the Tigers end that was returned to the one yard line and run in for a South Carolina touchdown on the very next play.
He ended up 19-for-33 for 227 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. This was Missouri’s toughest game so far this season but Bryant’s passing dropped more than it should have. Missouri needs Bryant to get back to being more accurate with his passing when they get into the tougher part of its schedule.
Missouri is off next week before playing Troy at home on October 5. Missouri has a chance to get healthy and work on its passing game before the next SEC game against Mississippi on October 12.