Grading the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Here’s my Report Card grades for the Gamecocks after their 27-10 win over North Carolina Thursday night Williams-Brice Stadium.
Here’s the good. RB Mike Davis showed a big-play capability that the Gamecocks have been missing in their running game recently. (I know they had Marcus Lattimore the last three seasons, but Lattimore, who is the second-best RB in school history, didn’t have the home run speed that Davis has. He blew right by the UNC secondary). His 75-yard run in the third quarter killed any momentum the Tar Heels had created with their long, time-consuming drive to start the third quarter.
The unproven wide receivers stepped up, especially Shaq Roland, who started the game with a 65-yard TD grab on the third snap. The offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage for the most part. The bad. The Gamecocks still cannot get any consistency out of their passing game. The Tar Heels defense wasn’t that good last year and you take two big plays away and the Gamecocks had 266 yards of total offense in 57 plays. OK, but not great.
North Carolina had one of the top offenses not only in the ACC, but in the country in 2012. They had a veteran QB in Bryn Renner returning and their top receiver in Quinshad Davis. Yes, the Tar Heels reeled off 80 snaps – that’s way too many. And yes, the Gamecocks were unable to get consistent pressure on Renner.
Jadeveon Clowney was almost a non-factor as well. But the Tar Heels were limited to 293 yards of total offense and scored one TD, after averaging 485 yards and 40 points in ’12. All-in-all a pretty solid effort against a quality offense.
Special teams (A-)
USC PK Elliott Fry connected on both of his FGs and all his extra points. The Gamecocks recovered a fumble on a UNC punt return and didn’t give up any big returns to the Tar Heels as well. Despite the fact that CB Victor Hampton nearly broke his neck during that one punt return (And by the way, what was he doing fielding that punt to begin with), the special teams had a good night.
For the life of me I can’t figure out the HBC sometimes. Connor Shaw struggled in the second half throwing the football. He took off running a couple of times when he should have stayed in the pocket. Back-up Dylan Thompson is the highest-rated QB in the nation with his one throw, one TD performance. I thought we were going to see more of Thompson and we probably should have in the second half. Also, the whole deep pass, timeout battle at the end of the game was unnecessary. We know the HBC doesn’t like North Carolina. That’s why he 5-0 against the Tar Heels.
USC defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward also had Clowney playing every position on the D-Line last night. I understand the need to mix it up and keep the offense guessing as to where he’s coming from, but sometimes you can outthink yourself.
First games just tend to be a little sloppy and certainly this one was after the first quarter. It was a win and the HBC and GamecockNation will take it, but consistency was a major factor, especially in the second half and that was long before the weather delay. If the Gamecocks are going to win the SEC East and get to Atlanta in December, they’ll need a better effort which starts next Saturday against Georgia.