David Cloninger

USC-Kentucky: Thumbs up, thumbs down

Game Balls: Top USC performances vs. Kentucky

Carson Mason hands out this week's game balls for the top South Carolina football performances in Saturday's game against Kentucky.
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Carson Mason hands out this week's game balls for the top South Carolina football performances in Saturday's game against Kentucky.

THUMBS UP

Offensive line

After three weeks (and four Saturday series) of being maligned, the Gamecocks got their act together. Switching to a jumbo set worked for pass blocking … now if it only had playmakers behind it.

Sean Kelly

Tell the punter to land the ball at any spot on the field and he’ll do it. USC is really going to miss him next year.

Hayden Hurst

The Gamecocks’ most dependable receiver again did his thing. His seven catches for 84 yards led the team and he set up the Gamecocks’ only touchdown.

Darius English

He’s finally living up to his potential. He ended with eight tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble.

THUMBS DOWN

The Tiptoe playbook

It was going to be tough considering USC’s line is evolving, but the Gamecocks mostly ignored all those big numbers allowed by UK’s secondary and refused to throw downfield, even when they had the blocking.

Brandon McIlwain

He’s a freshman, and still learning, but after some extended minutes last week and Saturday, the quarterback’s still not letting the ball go. Will Muschamp said he needs good decision-makers under center, and McIlwain was merely average Saturday.

Antoine Wilder and Toure Boyd

They blocked the same man in the back on a punt, which negated Rashad Fenton’s return for a touchdown. Inexcusable.

Defensive line

They were getting pressure when UK dropped back to pass, but the Wildcats gashed them every time on the zone-read off-tackle run.

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