Game Balls: Top USC performances against UMass
David Cloninger looks at every aspect and assigns a grade for USC’s 34-28 victory against UMass.
Jake Bentley looked good, making accurate throws and two picture-perfect fade routes for touchdowns. He didn’t run that much (perhaps by design), but slid under contact when he did. Yes, it was against a bad defense, but for a freshman making his collegiate debut, he was outstanding. Brandon McIlwain played a bit and didn’t light the world on fire, but he didn’t take away from the overall grade.
The numbers were good, and there were some explosive runs, but the position was still shaky. A lot of that is blocking, some of that is being put into predictable situations, and some more is that A.J. Turner didn’t have a carry. David Williams looked OK, but still seems to sputter on his first steps. Rico Dowdle was again fighting for tough yards, finishing with 87.
Good to see true receivers finally display what they can do. Deebo Samuel had eight catches for 106 yards and Bryan Edwards had three for 42, Edwards falling underneath a Bentley pass for a score. Terry Googer and Chavis Dawkins had one catch apiece. Being healthy certainly helps, but having a QB unafraid to throw the deep pass helps more.
They took a step back in terms of production with Bentley in there, but K.C. Crosby had a magnificent catch for a score and Hayden Hurst was trying to create targets for himself.
Bentley had good pockets, although he was sacked twice, but the run blocking suffered, especially in the second half. USC can’t seem to open up consistent holes for the running game, and when leaning on Williams for 15 carries, he needs to have big holes before he can really show what he can do. Will Muschamp said the return of Donell Stanley this week will help.
The pass rush was nearly nonexistent (one sack) and the run defense in the middle and the edges was merely so-so. There were some nice individual plays – Kelsey Griffin recovered a fumble, Darius English and Ulric Jones each broke up passes – but overall it was a poor day.
They were all over the field and made some sterling plays, so while they shared in the D-line’s inability to stop the run, they probably shouldn’t have been counted on to make so many tackles. Bryson Allen-Williams played a phenomenal game, but Larenz Bryant, filling in for Jonathan Walton, was being picked on by UMass quarterback Andrew Ford. He was trying to isolate him one-on-one with tight end Adam Breneman, and Breneman had nine catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
Chris Lammons had a great day with one tackle for loss, a fumble recovery and an interception, while D.J. Smith led the team with 12 stops. UMass utilized a lot of mid-level crossing patterns to keep the secondary away, and they mostly worked. For the most part, the DBs played well and made their stops.
It’s becoming voodoo at this point. Lammons dropped a punt, which seemed to be about the 817th for the Gamecocks over the past month. USC also mishandled a snap on a PAT, which could have been really crucial had UMass gotten the ball back in the fourth quarter.
The offense began to heal, but the defense was not good. The Gamecocks won, though.
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