David Cloninger

USC-Georgia report card: Wide receivers one bright spot

dmclemore@thestate.com

David Cloninger looks at every aspect of South Carolina’s 28-14 loss to Georgia and assigns a grade.

Quarterback

Perry Orth played the entire game and his numbers were solid – 26-of-36 for 288 yards. But he had one interception, another near-interception and didn’t throw a touchdown, and did zero in the run game. Worse, Orth was consistently throwing short of the sticks on third down. He gives the Gamecocks a stronger offense, but he’s not doing much more to win the game.

GRADE: D

Running back

The Gamecocks had 30 rushing yards (although Orth’s -39 yards due to sacks heavily contributed). Much of that is the line’s fault, but some of it is on the backs. A.J. Turner got 11 carries and couldn’t get loose. Rico Dowdle continues to show flashes of brilliance but fumbled a possession away.

GRADE: D

Wide receiver

Amazing how much better USC looks when Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards are on the field. Orth was able to at least soften Georgia’s coverage when he tried to hit Edwards deep early in the game, and Samuel hauled in four catches for 90 yards. They could pass-block a bit better, and Terry Googer stumbled himself right out of a first-down catch, but overall they were good.

GRADE: A

Tight end

Hayden Hurst continues to be one of the best tight ends in the country, K.C. Crosby had three catches and Kiel Pollard got one.

GRADE: A

Offensive line

Pass-blocking was fine as Orth had more than enough room to throw, but he was sacked five times when his edges continued to not hold. Run-blocking, repeating the season’s theme, needs a lot of work. It glares when the team has 30 rushing yards.

GRADE: D

Defensive line

Nick Chubb rushed for 121 yards. Sony Michel had 133. Brian Herrien (who?) had 82. All were going against a line that knew Georgia would try to run. And Jacob Eason dropped back to throw 17 times and was sacked once. Awful.

GRADE: F

Linebackers

Bryson Allen-Williams led the team with nine tackles but they shared in the blame with the D-line. Again, allowing two guys to break 100 and another to miss it by 18 yards is horrendous.

GRADE: F

Defensive backs

Eason barely challenged the secondary and when he did, he was tossing leather into the stands. Antoine Wilder got a tipped-ball interception and Mark King had a tackle for loss. Their tackling in the third level could have been better but they’re not supposed to be the top stoppers against a running team.

GRADE: B

Special teams

Hurst boogered the one punt that came to him, USC allowed an onside kick to get returned for a touchdown and Sean Kelly, despite being very good, shanked one punt that gave Georgia a short field. Three straight weeks that the special teams have let the Gamecocks down.

GRADE: C

Overall

Had Georgia not tried to pass the ball, the score would have been worse. The effort was not as present as in the first five games.

GRADE: D

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