And the Wheels have Fallen Off
What's most disappointing about the Gamecocks this year is that we are only 2 years removed from what was arguably the best squad we have ever fielded, and only 1 year removed from the record setting offensive performance of the 2014 squad. After 3 11-win seasons in the SEC there's nothing wrong with a rebuilding year or two, and in fact a period of rebuild is to be expected. What's distressing is that given the current trajectory it is obvious that we are not in the middle of a rebuild, but rather in the middle of a rapid decline, the bottom of which has yet to be determined.
Missouri is not a good football team in 2015. Faurot Field is the 2nd least intimidating venue in the SEC. Yet for some reason mediocre teams continue to look good against the Gamecocks. The putridity of our offense cannot be overstated: only 298 yards of total offense, the sole TD coming off of a fluke tipped pass that should have been intercepted, back-to-back-to-back interceptions in the 3rd Quarter. When Nunez wasn't actually being chased out of the pocket he was imaginarily getting chased out of the pocket. Nunez again led the team in rushing for the 3rd consecutive game with only 60 yards on the ground, which doesn't say much for our recent production at RB.
On defense we actually weren't that bad. We gave up too much in the run game and didn't put much pressure on the QB, but the defense forced punts on 5 of 10 possessions and wasn't the liability it has been in the past. Missouri only out-gained us by 1 yard, but was able to get 24 points out of their 299. 3 interceptions will do that.
What is evident in the first 5 weeks is that our coaches have completely failed the players. We've recruited 6 4-star WRs the last years (counting Pharoh Cooper), and yet our starting line-up at the position included 2 walk-ons. I don't say that to disparage Belton and Heard, but every other team seems to be able to take young, highly regarded skill position players and get them producing early, while we can barely get ours onto the field. Missouri started their own true freshman QB in this game, and look at the difference in results. Nunez was not prepared to play in this game, and unlike Missouri we appear to be unable to put together a game plan that protects our inexperienced QB from the chance of making a mistake. In the aftermath of the game there was a lot of talk about how Missouri had cracked our signaling and therefore knew what plays we were running. This wouldn't be that distressing if not for the fact that this very thing was discussed in a pre-season press conference. We apparently only had two different running plays in the game and one guy was sending in the signals. Our coaches get paid a lot of money, and we need need to be searching for more bang for our buck come December.
Watch the full game below (NOT RECOMMENDED):