David Cloninger

USC Report Card: Return of Darius English helps D-line earn an ‘A’

South Carolina defensive end Darius English (5) hits Vanderbilt Commodores quarterback Johnny McCrary (2) causing a fumble in the first half at Williams-Brice Stadium.
South Carolina defensive end Darius English (5) hits Vanderbilt Commodores quarterback Johnny McCrary (2) causing a fumble in the first half at Williams-Brice Stadium. gmelendez@thestate.com

Assigning grades in South Carolina’s 19-10 victory against Vanderbilt.

Quarterback

Perry Orth took some sacks, threw a pick and couldn’t quite find that touchdown to mean USC wouldn’t have to sweat as much, but he did well. He threw for 272 yards and his mistakes didn’t come back to haunt. Being steady and not spectacular will certainly do.

GRADE: B

Running back

Brandon Wilds returned from a week of outside questions for a 119-yard game, while David Williams averaged seven yards per carry. Williams’ fumble was a bad mistake but didn’t end up hurting the Gamecocks. It was good to see a running game anchor an offense again.

GRADE: B

Wide receiver

Pharoh Cooper continues to shine while D.J. Neal took his turn in the “other guy” rotation. At this point, expecting another receiver to be the set No. 2 option behind Cooper is far-fetched, but Neal at least has the chance to do so in two weeks. Even Cooper had the drops, though.

GRADE: B

Tight end

Another couple of big catches, a target for a touchdown (where Jerell Adams was overthrown) and a drop on a big series.

GRADE: B

Offensive line

The totals looked decent (two sacks, 152 rushing yards) but the line continues to be average. Pass protection was good although it struggled in the zone-read.

GRADE: B

Defensive line

Despite Johnny McCrary picking apart USC’s soft zone and not feeling much pressure, he felt enough. Darius English had a sack and forced a fumble while Qua Lewis played his best game, with two tackles for loss and two hurries. The line finally had an impact.

GRADE: A

Linebackers

Skai Moore continues to dazzle while Bryson Allen-Williams took over for the ejected T.J. Holloman and played his best game.

GRADE: A

Defensive backs

The usual – the DBs continue to get roasted by playing their soft zones. There were far too many wide-open receivers and slipped tackles started to accumulate. That said, Chris Lammons had a crucial interception when Vanderbilt could have taken the lead.

GRADE: C

Special teams

Elliott Fry missed two field goals but he made four, Landon Ard boomed one kick into the stands and Sean Kelly continues to be a force. The Gamecocks have a lot of problems this year but special teams aren’t one.

GRADE: A

Overall

The talent is still sparse but the Gamecocks rebounded from a tough week by winning a game they had to have. The season might still be a bad one, but a home loss to Vanderbilt might have sent it down a two-win path. USC, for at least two weeks, is stable.

GRADE: B

Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState

  Comments