5 predictions: Missouri edition

For the second year, over the course of the season, I will be making five predictions for each of the South Carolina football games. Some may be bold, some may be safe, some may be right on target. This week we take a look at the battle between South Carolina and Missouri.

1. At least one quarterback will not make it through the game

Let me preface this by saying that I never wish an injury on any player, but it's hard for me to believe that both James Franklin and Connor Shaw make it through this game. Both suffered shoulder injuries earlier this season, and while Shaw's is a bit more serious with the fracture, neither injury can get worse. That doesn't mean that neither hurts nor will hurt if it takes a blow. With the struggles of the offensive line for South Carolina and Shaw's tendency to tuck and run – the Stephen Garcia syndrome – Shaw will not make it through unscathed. The key is just not taking a hit to that shoulder like last week. On the other side, Franklin is also a dual-threat quarterback and will be looking to run if he's under pressure. While Missouri's offensive line has been holding up much better than Carolina's, there's no way they can hold back this talented defensive line of Carolina and the aggressiveness Lorenzo Ward plays with. Both quarterbacks will get hit and one won't make it out.

2. Lattimore gets back on track

It's like a broken record. For the last two weeks it's been all about Marcus Lattimore getting back on track. While he has scored a touchdown in each of the last two games to break the school record for most touchdowns in a career and tie the school record for most rushing touchdowns in a career, he hasn't had Lattimore-type numbers. He hasn't broken the 100-yard mark since rushing for 110 yards in the season opener and his highlight run has been a 65+ yard run last week against UAB that turned into a 43-yard run due to a penalty on Nick Jones. In fact, if not for that run Lattimore's numbers last week would have rivaled the worst in his career. Shawn Elliott has spent all week motivating his offensive line to run block consistently, something they haven't been able to do all year. There is talent on that line and they can be a very good line, but they just have to find that right combination. This week needs to be the week.

3. Mizzou becomes one dimensional

The key to Missouri's offense is balance. That is not always the case for an up-tempo, spread offense. They rely on spreading the defense out and getting the ball to playmakers in space in one-on-one situations. If a defense is able to take away one of the two, they will have success. Georgia was the only game in which Missouri threw the ball more than they ran it, even though the difference was only two. Carolina will take away the run this week and Missouri will throw the ball 10+ times more than they run.

4. Defense will not miss Swearinger statistically

D.J. Swearinger is the emotional leader of the defense. There is no denying that. Carolina is going to miss that emotional lift and there's no way anyone can expect T.J. Gurley to provide that lift. There are too many leaders on the defense for someone not to step up and be that emotional leader this week. A lot of people are worried about having a freshman starting at safety against a spread offense. While that is a legitimate concern, it will not be a problem Saturday. Gurley is good. He's not on the level of Swearinger right now, but he is very good and is not scared to stick his head in there and make a tackle. Once he gets rid of the butterflies of making his first start, Gurley will settle down and have a solid game. He may not lead the team in tackles or cause a fumble or interception, but he will play solid. If the defense struggles Saturday, it will not be because of T.J. Gurley.

5. Gamecocks finish +2 in turnovers

A lot of times the key to any game with fairly evenly matched teams is the turnover battle. Turnovers could play a big role in Saturday's game. South Carolina's defense has been all over the field through three games, forcing seven turnovers and turning it over five times. Missouri has only turned the ball over 4 times in three games, while forcing ten. Carolina will win the turnover battle this week, forcing 3+ turnovers.

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