David Cloninger looks at every aspect of South Carolina’s last game and assigns a grade. Go to the head of the class if the grades you assigned the Gamecocks match his.
NO. 20 SOUTH CAROLINA 27, NO. 5 MISSOURI 24 (2OT)
Dylan Thompson wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t sharp and couldn’t get the ball into the end zone. Connor Shaw was, well, magnificent. There are no words to describe what that man means to this program after what he pulled out of his rather sizable hat. Shaw gets an A-double-plus, Thompson gets a small bit below an average mark because of an interception. Together, a fine grade.
Mike Davis had a great day catching the football, but averaged a mere 2.7 yards per carry and fumbled twice in Missouri territory. That forced USC to go to Shon Carson, and he responded with a solid seven carries for 27 yards and two catches. A decent showing, although USC didn’t have a ground touchdown.
Everybody had a good day catching the football. There were 35 completions among eight receivers, with Bruce Ellington posting another fantastic day. He catches one touchdown tumbling out-of-bounds and hauls in another after a nifty double move. Damiere Byrd snuck in a catch through double coverage and continues to have a stellar season.
They’re here after all. Rory “Busta” Anderson and Jerell Adams were each targeted several times and each responded, after some initial drops. Adams had three catches for 48 yards and Anderson had three for 38. Good to see them show up, especially when the rushing game went kaput.
Ronald Patrick was back and clearly made a difference, although Missouri’s aggressive pass-rush was as legit as advertised. Shaw simply stepped back and threw over it on the wide-open screen routes. Shaw took two sacks but Thompson had none, so overall, a very fine day.
Don’t look now, but USC’s defensive line is finally living up to its “strength of the team” preseason moniker. Kelcy Quarles had six tackles, three for loss, and two sacks. Jadeveon Clowney had five tackles with a TFL. Gerald Dixon and J.T. Surratt also played fine games. USC shut down Missouri’s side-to-side running game and put the desired pressure on Maty Mauk.
The linebackers had to play on their heels a lot, either running to contain the edges or dropping back into coverage on the chance that Mauk would throw downfield. He didn’t do it much, mostly going for the screen passes where his receivers could make plays in space, and outside of failing (with the secondary) to cover L’Damian Washington, had a solid showing.
The long touchdown is what sticks out, but it was a group effort on whose fault it was, split between the back seven. Overall, USC played well in coverage, making open-field tackles. The gripe is not holding onto the ball. Mauk threw four interceptions, but only one was caught (and that was on a tip drill to linebacker Kaiwan Lewis). Jimmy Legree, Brison Williams and Sharrod Golightly all dropped picks.
No return games, more interesting returns from Pharoh Cooper, but Tyler Hull rebounded to average 44.7 yards per punt and Elliott Fry, after missing his first field goal, was money afterward.
OVERALL GRADE: A
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