David Cloninger

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: USC vs. UMass

THUMBS UP

Jake Bentley

The freshman sparkled in his first game, throwing two touchdowns on perfect fade routes. He also smartly directed a game-clinching drive.

Rico Dowdle

Another freshman with a big day. Dowdle had 87 yards on 16 carries, none more important than 11 yards on third-and-4 at the end.

Deebo Samuel

That’s what a healthy hamstring can do. Samuel led the Gamecocks with 106 yards on eight catches.

Bryson Allen-Williams

Nine tackles, 2.5 for loss and a sack. The junior had the big plays that were missing from his resume.

THUMBS DOWN

Defense

No adjustment to the same plays UMass was running. Constantly lining up eight yards off a guy and acting surprised when he catches nine passes for 94 yards?

Special teams

Another dropped punt. And a bobbled snap on a PAT in what became a six-point game.

Conservation

The Gamecocks were up 27-14 and kept calling the same first-down runs up the middle. The gas pedal wasn’t inoperative; it was just unused.

Crowd

Noon kick, State Fair, 1-6 opponent … no matter. It was so quiet late that UMass’ cries of “Pass!” on USC pass plays were audible in the lower bowl.

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