David Cloninger

Thumbs up, thumbs down: USC vs. Tennessee

dcloninger@thestate.com

Game Balls: Top USC performances against Tennessee

Carson Mason awards game balls to some of the top performances in South Carolina's win over Tennessee.
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Carson Mason awards game balls to some of the top performances in South Carolina's win over Tennessee.

THUMBS UP

Jake Bentley

He was poised under (a lot of) pressure and made smart decisions. The Gamecocks have found their quarterback.

Rico Dowdle

He runs through contact and makes great cuts. There’s hardly any lost yardage with him.

Deebo Samuel

The catch that set up USC’s first touchdown, between the 1 on his jersey and getting it pulled to the side, was so reminiscent of Alshon Jeffery that the Chicago Bears immediately inquired about Samuel’s draft status.

Jamarcus King

Two interceptions, the last that cinched the game. One of the only defensive backs left standing stood tall.

Raw video as South Carolina celebrates the win over Tennessee at Williams-Brice Stadium.

THUMBS DOWN

Offensive line

It’s been terrible run blocking and decent pass blocking, but that reversed on Saturday. I couldn’t tell if the run blocking was better or if it was just Rico Dowdle shredding an awful run defense, but the pass blocking allowed Bentley to get hit on all sides.

Special teams

Still can hardly catch a punt, and now the punter (Sean Kelly) is not belting them like he has been. Throw in a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and it was a trifecta.

Play-calling

Tennessee can’t stop the run, so by all means, stop running. Knowing Tennessee has been a second-half team all season and it gets the ball first second half, don’t even try to get in position for a field goal at the end of the half.

Chris Lammons

Incredibly selfish and foolish to swing two fists at a receiver. He’s been one of the Gamecocks’ best defenders this season at a woefully thin spot and is a junior. Have to be smarter than that.

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