The Xtra Point: Taming The Beast
No James Franklin? No problem.
Maty Mauk showed critics last Saturday he was a capable quarterback with a respectable 295 passing yards, one passing touchdown and one interception against a highly ranked Florida pass defense. In the process, Mauk earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors.
But now Mauk isn't playing the Gators. He's preparing for a match against South Carolina and one of the best defensive players in college football: Jadeveon Clowney. Currently slated as the number one pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Clowney is coming off his best game of the season as he racked up five tackles in a losing effort against Tennessee. It's going to be difficult for the offensive line to gameplan for this behemoth. The Tigers have given up 15 sacks this year without really facing an intimidating defensive force like Clowney so a huge key for the Tigers is making sure Clowney isn't making plays. If a young quarterback like Mauk gets roughed up enough, it spells bad news for the offense.
This matchup especially spells bad news for running back Henry Josey. Josey is coming off a major injury that sidelined him for all of last season. Clowney is known for pancaking running backs in the backfield. Look at what he did against Tennessee last week.
The Tigers need to be careful with using Josey in the next games as he might take a dangerous hit if he's used too much. Expect the Tigers to use Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough in the backfield more as well as passing in the shotgun formation a lot more.
As for the Gamecocks offense, they are lacking right now. Quarterback Connor Shaw is currently questionable for this game. Even so, he got roughed up by a mediocre Tennessee defense. With Missouri's defense capable of forcing turnovers (14 interceptions on the year), they shouldn't have to worry too much about whichever quarterback they face.
The biggest concern for Missouri's defense is shutting down running back Mike Davis. Davis is sixth in the FBS in rushing yards with 879 rushing yards this year. Missouri has yet to face a dominant runner such as Davis this year. Luckily for the Tigers, the defensive line trio of Michael Sam, Kony Ealy and Marcus Golden have done a great job of putting pressure on running backs this year. They'll be locked on making sure Davis doesn't light the Tigers up.
At the beginning of the season, Missouri had absolutely no hope of winning this game. But since Missouri's rise into the national spotlight, they are now expected to win this game. Given the motivation of Homecoming behind the Tigers, I can see them taking this game and with that, a step closer to the National Championship.