Here’s the story. The Missouri Tigers are trailing 10-7 and have gained just 117 total yards, including just 57 through the air.
After the Tigers opening drive turned into seven points, thanks to a bonehead coaching decision by Steve Spurrier, Mizzou’s offense has sputtered thanks to poor first down play calling from Josh Henson.
Since the TD drive, Mizzou has run 13 plays on first down. Seven of those were passes. Maty Mauk is 1-of-7 for eight yards on first down. The Tigers have run the ball six times on first down, gaining a total of 40 yards.
Mauk started the game without his third best receiver Darius White, who is out with a groin injury and he lost his number two receiver Jimmie Hunt early in the first quarter. The Tigers are stubbornly trying to pass the ball, long downfield plays on first down with Bud Sasser, Lawrence Lee and Wes Leftwich as his top targets.
Offensive coordinator Henson has two healthy backs averaging 5.2 (Murphy) and 6.3 (Hansbrough) yards per carry.
Why is Mizzou not trying to establish the run with the hopes of opening up the pass game?
1st Quarter Recap
The Head Ball Coach elected to go for it on a fourth down on the opening drive and Kentrell Brothers came up with a big stop giving the Mizzou offense a short field to work with. Russell Hansbrough took a handoff and went 18 yards for a quick touchdown putting Mizzou up 7-0.
After a quick four plays and a punt by USC, the Tigers put together a 14 play drive. Maty Mauk had a scramble on a 3rd and 10 to get a first down. Lawrence Lee, filling in for the injured Jimmie Hunt, made a great catch on a 3rd down play to bring up a 4th and short inside the Gamecocks 40. The Tigers converted with a fourth down run by Hansbrough, but Mizzou came up with no points when Andrew Baggett missed a 48 yard field goal. Braylon Webb mishandled the snap for a split second to throw off the timing.
Carolina came back down and got into Tiger territory with a Dylan Thompson pass completion to Pharoh Cooper for 27 yds to the 43. USC got down into the redzone, but were held to a 33 yard field goal. They are 15 for 15 scoring in the redzone this season with 11 touchdowns.
Tigers lead 7-3.
2nd Quarter Recap
After a 52 yard punt for a touchback gave USC the ball on their 20, Matt Hoch dropped Thompson for a 12-yard sack and on third down Shane Ray sacked Thompson forcing a punt. In the first four games, the Gamecock offensive line gave up just five sacks. Through the first 20 minutes, the Tigers have two.
Later in the quarter, Shane Ray added his second sack of the game.
It appeared as though Mizzou converted on a 3rd and 10 when Mauk hit Bud Sasser on a slant pass, but on the other side of the field, Lawrence Lee was called for offensive pass interference pushing the Tigers back to 3rd and 20 and a punt.
Five plays, 59 yards, including a 24 yard screen pass to Mike Davis. Then on first down from the 17, Davis ran it in untouched to give USC a 10-7 lead with 1:36 to play.