With South Carolina football’s 26-23 loss to the Texas A&M Aggies behind us, it’s time to grade the Gamecocks.
One might want to drop Jake Bentley farther just because of the bad start and the ghastly early interception. That’s fair to a degree. He also led his team back into the game and lost conservatively 100 yards of big plays when receivers with NFL dreams simply didn’t haul in balls they should’ve. The start matters, but those plays do as well. Grade: D+
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The Aggies play a style that focuses on the run, and USC struggled to get consistent yards. Gamecocks backs had 14 combined carries with 41 yards on two Ty’Son Williams runs and 25 on the other 12 (2.2 per carry). Grade: C-
There were some nice plays. Deebo Samuel had a few. Bryan Edwards had some on the 2-point plays. Chavis Dawkins had a beauty of a play on his first career TD. That said, the drops, at least five of them, cost USC between 100 and 140 yards minimum and prevented three drives from becoming real scoring threats. Grade: D+
Not much action for these guys. Kiel Pollard caught a pass short of the sticks and Jacob August had a grab on a late drive. They had good roles blocking on the two longer runs, but generally were just sort of there. Grade: C-
There was one bad sack and a few hurries, but the Gamecocks generally kept Jake Bentley clean. There weren’t many running lanes, but there weren’t many runs, and there wasn’t much that was truly bad here. Grade: C+
USC held the powerful A&M running game mostly in check and actually got to Kellen Mond at points. Some plays were left unfinished and at points he got too much time, but considering the defense was out there most of the game, it wasn’t the worst. Grade: B-
Pretty good against the run, lots of issues against the pass. A&M tight end Jace Sternberger got open a few times when linebackers and defensive backs struggled to carry him and pass him off. Things broke a little late as A&M was controlling the clock but they helped check the tip of the spear in the Aggie attack. Grade: C+
This was ugly to say the least. Starting cornerback Keisean Nixon got benched for long stretches. Texas A&M’s tight end literally said he say the group struggled to communicate as he posted 145 yards. The Aggies’ average completion gained 14.5 yards, and with only a modest passing day, the Gamecocks might come out on top. Grade: F
Joseph Charlton had himself a day, booting five of six punts longer than 50 yards. Kickoffs were decent, as was coverage, but three plays marred what could’ve been a banner day. Twice Deebo Samuel returned kicks in big spots and twice they didn’t get past USC’s 18 (interestingly the Gamecocks scored on both drives). Bryan Edwards also had a nice punt return to the A&M 41, but a bump from the punter produced a fumble, robbing USC of a scoring chance in what ended up a scoreless half. Grade: B-
A D for the first-half effort. An A for the gumption for fight back and make it a game. Then a C- for not quite being able to close the deal despite playing close. A big, big F for frittering away so many chances. USC played well enough to win and badly enough to lose, and a little more would’ve earned a much-needed win against a more talented team. Grade: C-