1. WILL HE SPIT HOT FIRE?
Dylan Thompson has carved a legendary place for himself in Gamecock lore, for beating Clemson on the road and then firing the game-winning touchdown in the Outback Bowl, both times in relief of an injured Connor Shaw. It will be his show again tonight, with a chance to pull off another huge win. Thompson has historically been at his best when told in advance that hes going to start, and thats the case here. USC certainly needs him to be at his best.
2. PHENOM MEETS PHENOM
Jadeveon Clowney had the best game of his season last week, and will need to have another one against Missouri. Maty Mauk is taking over many headlines with his play in relief of James Franklin, and after a stunning debut against a very good Florida defense, is hoping to carry the Tigers to a win that could nearly lock up the SEC East. Clowney and his line mates have to get to Mauk, make him feel pressure and let him know that it wont be as easy as it was against the Gators.
3. RUN MD
Steve Spurrier faced criticism last week for not relying more on tailback Mike Davis, particularly in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. This week, the challenge seems to be keeping Missouris high-octane offense off the field. The best way to do that is grind clock, which means that Davis could get around 30 carries. He was held up some against Tennessee, but they couldnt keep him down for long. If Davis can get some big runs early, Thompson and USC can settle in and the defense wont be as gassed as it was during the first half last week.
4. WATCH YOUR HEAD
Who knows how much a full game from Kadetrix Marcus would have helped last week? As it was, Chris Moody and T.J. Gurley had to play extended minutes, with each on a roller coaster. The targeting rule isnt going away this year, so USC, like every other team, just has to deal with it and start hitting players lower. If Chaz Elder cant play, it makes the concentration on legal tackling that much more important to USCs secondary.
5. BE SPECIAL
The one consistent thing about USCs special teams is it hasnt lost a game by itself. The problem is, its not helping win any games, either. Theres just nothing consistently good about the unit, with the last bit of solid play kicker Elliott Fry missing his first field goal of the season last week. All of those problems, from last week and really from the last 10 years, arent going to go away in a week. What the Gamecocks are hoping for is something, anything, on special teams to help them win.