David Cloninger

Report Card: USC secondary giving ‘DB U’ a bad name

Florida running back Kelvin Taylor (21) breaks free for a long run in the fourth quarter to set up the Gators’ final score Saturday.
Florida running back Kelvin Taylor (21) breaks free for a long run in the fourth quarter to set up the Gators’ final score Saturday. gmelendez@thestate.com

Grading South Carolina’s 24-14 loss to Florida:

Quarterback

The two touchdown drives were magnificent, the rest of the game awful. While it wasn’t Orth’s fault that he didn’t have a running game or much protection, he could have thrown the ball away quicker and he had two interceptions. That said, USC doesn’t score without him.

GRADE: D

Running back

It’s always half-and-half protection and production – so each failed.

GRADE: F

Wide receiver

Hard to do anything when the quarterback has no room to throw. Pharoh Cooper again managed to sparkle, having a hand in each of USC’s two scores, while Hayden Hurst is developing into a fine receiver. Matrick Belton had two big grabs.

GRADE: B

Tight end

Jerell Adams was the team’s leading receiver, but he also had one big drop. Orth tried to find the TEs since the pass rush was so brutally efficient, but rarely had time.

GRADE: C

Offensive line

See “Running back” and add “pass protection.”

GRADE: F

Defensive line

Good against the run and lousy at putting pressure on Treon Harris. The last cost the Gamecocks the game. USC wound up with nine tackles for loss, three sacks and a lineman got one interception. If there had just been one bit of pressure in the first half, perhaps USC isn’t having to come back from 17-0.

GRADE: D

Linebackers

They helped contain the run, but bore the brunt of the D-line’s ineffectiveness to pressure Harris. T.J. Holloman led the team with eight tackles, but nobody could get to a receiver over the middle.

GRADE: D

Defensive backs

Sigh … Jordan Diggs kept missing tackles (including on Kelvin Taylor’s game-clinching TD). Chris Lammons dropped his fourth interception in two games, and that got turned into a touchdown. Al Harris simply cannot cover his man. “DB U,” which has seven guys playing on Sundays, has been downgraded to a JV team.

GRADE: F

Special teams

Sean Kelly continues to show why he’s one of the most underrated punters in the country, and Landon Ard continues to blast balls out of the end zone. Elliott Fry did his duty.

GRADE: A

Overall

The fourth-quarter heroics weren’t enough to save an awful first three periods. USC was again right there and again couldn’t get it done.

GRADE: D

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