It wasn’t like South Carolina didn’t know what was coming from Missouri’s offense.
With Missouri’s quarterback situation in flux and starter Connor Bazelak banged up, the Gamecocks prepared all week for a run-heavy offense and the Tigers’ feature back Tyler Badie.
But it wasn’t enough, and it’s another tough rushing performance a week after their best performance defensively stopping the run.
“Gang tackling was something we stressed in getting 11 hats around the ball. I don’t know if we always did that at times tonight,” head coach Shane Beamer said. “Certainly playing snug against the run and getting guys up there, just weren’t very sharp tonight.”
Missouri popped off for 258 rushing yards on 46 attempts, an average of 5.6 yards per carry with 125 of those yards coming on runs of at least 10 yards.
Badie himself had a score and 209 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per attempt, and paired it with five catches for 22 yards.
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He’d have five of Missouri’s eight rushes of 10-plus yards, including an 18-yard touchdown scamper and a 30-yard gut-punch of a run on the Tigers’ game-icing drive.
“The concepts they run is an outside zone type of offense when it comes to running the ball,” Brad Johnson said. “The O-line zones really hard to the left and the running back can really go where he wants to go. Being a shorter back it’s kind of hard to find. Some guys were trying to find him and he got lost, then he’s really slippery too.”
While Badie is a good player — South Carolina coaches and players will be quick to point out he’s leading the league in rushing for a reason — but the Gamecocks didn’t necessarily help themselves.
South Carolina officially missed six tackles, per Pro Football Focus, but it seemed like a lot more as they could never get a Missouri ball carrier on the ground before they needed to.
“Just have to tackle better, simple as that,” Cam Smith said. “Those are two-yard gains turning into five or six. On first or second down, you’re really not going to have success on third down if you’re getting in second and six or second and fours.”
It’s another performance where the Gamecocks (5-5, 2-5 SEC) struggled to stop the run against a good team, this time preventing them from their sixth win and leaving them with only two more chances to get to a bowl game.
Including Saturday, South Carolina’s played eight games against teams who are .500 or better right now. In those games, They’ve allowed 1,557 rushing yards and an average of 4.9 yards per attempt. Four of those eight have rushed for at least 230 yards.
The Gamecocks now have to regroup quickly for an Auburn team coming to town fifth in the SEC in yards per rush attempt (5.2) and Tank Bigsby in the backfield, seventh in the SEC in total rushing yards.
“I wouldn’t say surprising but it didn’t meet our expectations of what we knew what should happen. We didn’t come out like we should have and didn’t sustain the type of energy we needed to get the job done. At the end of the day, that’s what it came down to. All we can do now is get back to work on Sunday.”