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How South Carolina can upset Missouri; plus, CBS analyst calls Jake Bentley SEC’s best QB

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Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

South Carolina hits the road to take on Mizzou

For the South Carolina Gamecocks to win their first SEC road game since the 2016 season opener, defensive backs D.J. Smith and JaMarcus King will have to step up on Saturday against Missouri, according to SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan.

McGranahan joins Mike Chapman to preview the Gamecocks’ Week 2 game against the Tigers in the latest edition of Zaxby’s Sound Off.

The South Carolina defense will have to slow down a talented Missouri offense for the Gamecocks to improve to 2-0 on the season. The Missouri offense is coming off a 815-yard performance against Missouri State in Week 1.

Jake Bentley is the SEC’s No. 1 QB, according to CBS analyst

South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley is the best signal caller in the SEC, according to CBS analyst Gary Danielson.

“I rate Jake Bentley the No. 1 QB in the SEC,” Danielson said on The Paul Finebaum Show on Tuesday. “Every time I watch him play, I’m so impressed by his maturity.”

Bentley was solid in the Gamecocks’ season opener, completing 17 of 29 passes for 215 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception in leading South Carolina to a 35-28 victory against North Carolina State in Week 1.

‘We know we have a special team’

Bentley also appeared on The Paul Finebaum Show on Wednesday to discuss his team’s win over N.C. State and their collective comfort with being underdogs.

“We try not to look at that too much,” Bentley said. “We know we have a special team and we know that special things are happening here in Columbia. The media people can say whatever they want to. We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing and prove to them that we deserve to be here and that we’re building this program back to where it needs to be.”

South Carolina opened as a 4-point underdog against Missouri this week. The Gamecocks closed as 5-point underdogs against N.C. State in Week 1.

LB T.J. Brunson humble in Week 1 performance

One week after leading his team with 16 total tackles in their win over N.C. State, South Carolina linebacker T.J. Brunson has been nothing but humble.

“I didn’t know I had that many [tackles],” Brunson told Josh Hyber of Spurs and Feathers. “I was just running and tackling.”

The Columbia native was the first prospect South Carolina coach Will Muschamp visited after his introductory press conference in December 2015.

“Having him as a freshman and seeing him grow and develop, to see how important it is to him to play well, was really neat,” Muschamp said of the sophomore linebacker. “He’s very hard on himself, and in my opinion, too hard on himself at times. I told him that I shouldn’t have more confidence in you than you do in yourself.”

The path to QB greatness

Bentley’s Week 1 performance earned him the No. 5 spot in SEC Country’s inaugural QB Ladder rankings, looking beyond the box score at the otherwise unquantifiable “greatness” of the signal caller.

“Will Muschamp’s first South Carolina season began with an anemic offense and ended with hope, much of which was fulfilled this past Saturday when the Gamecocks hung 35 on North Carolina State,” wrote SEC Country’s Alex Martin Smith. “Bentley was the star; his on-the-run touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel no doubt grabbed NFL scouts’ attention.”

Bentley faces off against the No. 4-ranked quarterback, Missouri’s Drew Lock, on Saturday.

Close to home

South Carolina LB Eldridge Thompson told reporters that his family in Houston was doing well in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Their home avoided the flooding caused by the storm’s heavy rainfall.

“They just got blessed, to be honest,” Thompson said. “They live in a complex area where the apartment didn’t have any water, but the streets were flooded.”

After Thompson finished high school in Memphis, Tenn., his mom and sister moved to Houston.

Allisha Gray wins Rookie of the Year

Former South Carolina forward Allisha Gray was named WNBA Rookie of the Year on Tuesday, via the Dallas Morning News.

Gray, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft, averaged 13 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game for the Dallas Wings this season.

The Greenwood, S.C., native was named to the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament team in 2016-17 as she helped the Lady Gamecocks to their first national championship.

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The post How South Carolina can upset Missouri; plus, CBS analyst calls Jake Bentley SEC’s best QB appeared first on SEC Country.

Daniel Sweeney – SEC Country

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Report: Hugh Freeze made hundreds of calls to disassociated Ole Miss booster

hugh freeze-ole miss football

More of Hugh Freeze’s phone records were uncovered on Friday and they show that the former Ole Miss coach made hundreds of calls to booster Lee Harris, who is also named in the NCAA’s investigation.

Per USA Today’s Dan Wolken, Freeze and Harris called each other over 200 times, beginning in January of 2015 and running through the end of Freeze’s reign at Ole Miss. The phone calls continued through the NCAA’s investigation of Harris and his involvement with the school.

Freeze’s attorney does not believe that the Ole Miss coach and Harris spoke about the NCAA case, which would be a potential violation of bylaw 10.1 relating to unethical conduct.

Harris owns a restaurant in Oxford, Ms., and the NCAA has alleged that Harris provided free food and cash to Leo Lewis, who is now a linebacker at Mississippi State. Ole Miss has disputed Lewis’ claims but the NCAA, who gave Lewis immunity in the case, views him as credible witness.

Per Wolken, Harris turned over phone records that showed he had texted and called Lewis before National Signing Day 2015. Harris had previously told NCAA investigators he had not talked with Lewis.

The phone records show that a majority of the phone calls between Freeze and Harris took place in 2016 but the calls became less frequent as the NCAA’s investigation went on.

The Ole Miss’ Committee on Infractions meeting is set for Sept. 11 and Lewis, along with Freeze, is expected to be present.

Freeze resigned in July after it came out that he had called an escort service. He was replaced by Matt Luke. The Rebels open their 2017 season at home against South Alabama. Ole Miss will not go to a bowl game in 2017 as it self-imposed a ban.

The post Report: Hugh Freeze made hundreds of calls to disassociated Ole Miss booster appeared first on SEC Country.

Connor Riley – SEC Country