David Cloninger looks at every aspect of South Carolina’s last game and assigns a grade.
NO. 5 AUBURN 42, SOUTH CAROLINA 35
Dylan Thompson put his name alongside Steve Taneyhill and Todd Ellis by throwing for over 400 yards, recording the fifth-best passing game in school history and the first 400-plus passing effort since 1995. He also tied four other USC QBs with a record five touchdown passes. It was nearly enough, and Thompson showed courageous effort by completing passes on fourth down, but two interceptions were back-breakers. The third is excusable due to being a Hail Mary, but the first, where he lobbed to the middle of the field, prevented a two-score lead. The second was after USC recovered an onside kick and got to the 18. He was hit on each, but those two picks snuffed all momentum.
Mike Davis was stunning, running the ball and catching passes from the backfield, and Brandon Wilds had a very nice seven carries for 26 yards. No problems whatsoever.
Without safety net Rory Anderson at tight end, USC’s receivers picked up the slack and made Thompson comfortable. Pharoh Cooper needs his Heisman campaign for next year started now. Shaq Roland again had a magnificent catch. Nick Jones took his undersized self right across the middle of the field for key late-down conversions. All of them got in the act and played extremely well.
Jerell Adams caught three balls for 42 yards and was the intended receiver on the last play. Without Anderson above him, he’s polishing his NFL resume. He did quit running on the route that led to Thompson’s first pick, and although Thompson never should have thrown that ball, Adams had to at least be in a spot to knock an errant ball down.
The Gamecocks didn’t give up any sacks, but the line did lose contain a few times and allowed Thompson to get hit. That being said, it was mostly doing dandy at giving him plenty of time to throw, and the backs had plenty of room to run through.
Same story. Auburn went right up the middle because it knew USC couldn’t stop it. The Tigers rushed for 395 yards and averaged 8.4 per carry. USC’s linemen looked like high-schoolers against Walter Payton. Not that Nick Marshall threw downfield that much, but the Gamecocks again got no pass-rush and had no sacks. The defensive end spot opposite Gerald S. Dixon may as well be held open for any student who wants to give football a shot this week.
Also the same story – really hard for linebackers to fill their gaps when D-linemen are being shoved into their chests. Skai Moore had eight tackles and Marcquis Roberts had six, including half of one for loss, but it wasn’t nearly enough. They’re trying their best but it’s really a case of hoping to trip somebody, since they’re being leveled by their own men and can’t belly-to-belly tackle anyone.
Marshall went side-to-side a lot but he also had throws to the flat where USC’s defensive backs were always a step too slow. It also seemed that the Tigers’ receivers were each 10 feet tall. No one came close to an interception. There were only 156 passing yards given up, but Marshall was 13-of-15.
Elliott Fry was perfect on his PATs, Tyler Hull wasn’t needed much but launched a 47-yard punt when he was and Landon Ard put three kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks, with a nifty onside kick that was textbook in its execution. There weren’t many kicks to return, but Cooper had one for 7 yards and Shon Carson had one for 23.
OVERALL GRADE: C-
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