Taking a closer look at South Carolina’s 31-13 win against Missouri on Saturday.
This is the “good work, but you can do better” performance when a grader believes someone is capable of more. A total of 187 yards on 28 passes is OK, though starting 17-23 is pretty good. Jake Bentley ripped some key throws, but he also had two or three he’d like to have back, especially not being able to find Hayden Hurst open on an early wheel and scramble. It was a solid performance overall, but there’s a next step.
Rico Dowdle could’ve used a more efficiency, as eight of his 14 carries failed to gain four yards. Ty’Son Williams came up big for the Gamecocks, especially late. He had 48 yards in the fourth quarter and finished at 5.6 yards per carry for 79 yards. The overall production was a little inconsistent, but a step up against a Missouri defense that seemed driven after a rough first outing.
A pretty quiet day for the group, solid and workmanlike more than flashy. Bryan Edwards had the biggest plays, converting a pair of third downs on his five catches and drew a penalty to convert a third. Shi Smith and Deebo Samuel did good work in the short game.
Hurst had a big day after a quiet opener, and came close to an even bigger day. He got 69 yards on his three catches, two for 39 and 22, and got open for a long wheel route and coming across the window. Jacob August did solid work in the run game, and USC several times deployed three-tight end looks.
The line helped keep Bentley relatively clean, with only one sack, though there were four hurries. The run game had some issues early, but eventually, the Gamecocks wore down Mizzou’s defense, averaging 5 yards a carry on 24 second-half carries.
Posting big sack totals was never realistic given the structure of the Tigers offense. That said, South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw got his hands on a pair of balls, and USC got good interior push. There were some issues with a Mizzou running game that puts the front six on an island, but the day was solid overall.
Skai Moore was active and Bryson Allen-Williams had a well-rounded day with an interception. The group did have trouble corralling the Tigers’ running game in space, and T.J. Brunson appeared to have a bust on a run-pass option that led to a 61-yard touchdown pass.
The Gamecocks had little margin for error with a cadre of only five available players. There were a smattering of missed tackles in space and more struggles for Jamarcus King, all leading to some explosive plays for Missouri. But they also played a role in Drew Lock’s 14-for-32 day, which included a pair of interceptions.
Grade: A- (with five guys, it could’ve gone much worse)
There’s probably a nit to pick somewhere, but between a heady Javon Charleston play to force a turnover and set up South Carolina’s last score and Samuel’s 97-yard kickoff return to spark things for USC, it’s hard to find much fault.
South Carolina is still probably a little too reliant on those special teams and turnovers creating field position, as it’s hard to win consistently while getting out-gained on a per-play basis. That said, the offense and defense have both shown good signs, and banking an 18-point conference road win is good in just about any context.