David Cloninger looks at every aspect of South Carolina’s last game and assigns a grade.
SOUTH CAROLINA 37, SOUTH ALABAMA 12
Dylan Thompson was 10-of-17 for 237 yards, one interception and one touchdown and also caught a touchdown from Pharoh Cooper. The Gamecocks had several players taking Wildcat snaps but outside of Cooper’s one throw and two garbage-time passes from Connor Mitch, it was Thompson’s show. It was right on par with his other games – solid, not spectacular. He had a great play when he hooked up with Cooper for 73 yards on third down from the short field, and one bad interception.
Tough going against a stout defense, but Brandon Wilds and David Williams each played well. The multiple runners from the Wildcat each had success. Mike Davis fumbled twice, once after a catch, and Williams fumbled once. Against a better team, those really could have hurt.
Big catches from Cooper, Nick Jones and Damiere Byrd highlighted the game and took some of the spotlight away from the slippery hands. Jones hauled in a touchdown, Cooper stretched (and stretched) the chains on his middle-of-the-field grab and run and Byrd had another for his personal NFL reel.
Jerell Adams got banged up. Rory Anderson dropped two balls and was flagged for a personal foul.
Pass protection was strong but the run-blocking suffered, especially on the right side. The snapping calmed down to everyone’s relief, and Thompson wasn’t sacked, so it wasn’t a horrible day.
The line was gashed early by the run and did well after the half, but it’s still a unit that is depending on the second level to clean up its mess. The Gamecocks did get three sacks (only one by a lineman) and Phillip Dukes was in on a lot of stops. J.T. Surratt had five tackles, one for loss.
Skai Moore had nine tackles, tying for the team lead, and two interceptions. The last was an extremely athletic play, when he reached behind him to grab an errant pass. T.J. Holloman displayed why his upside is so great with six stops, including a sack, and each linebacker did well in stopping USA’s runners after halftime.
After a rough first half covering passes, USC calmed down and began playing solid defense. Brison Williams was the hero with two interceptions, including a pick-six that he read from the snap. T.J. Gurley led the team with nine tackles and jarred one USA receiver under the yard marker. What’s denying a top grade? A 40-yard pass to Chris Lammons’ man on third-and-21.
Elliott Fry reverted to form, Landon Ard banged ’em through the end zone and Tyler Hull was only needed once. The return game continues to suffer – and two fumbles, one lost, won’t please anybody – but at this point, it’s a case of just not losing the game.
OVERALL GRADE: B