5 POINTS: So I was wrong -- South Carolina 31, Ole Miss 24

Fivepoints2008sat_medium

1. We can has offense! In fact, quite a bit of it. The Gamecocks rang up 405 yards, scored the most points since the N.C. State game and punted just once. The passing game seemed to be better than it had been in the past -- this comes from listening to the radio, though, so that could be suspect -- offsetting a generally disappointing performance from the rushing game. Again. Mike Davis had a so-so 77 yards on 19 carries. This, again, is where it was curious to not see Stepen Garcia at all; putting him in there for designed runs shouldn't cause problems, unless Steve Spurrier is just determined not to run the quarterback. Which he's said needs to be an increased part of the Gamecocks' offense. But these are quibbles; what the Gamecocks did Saturday worked.

2. Chris Smelley is dead. Long live Chris Smelley! As he seems capable of doing only when his back is to the wall, Smelley once again came through with a great performance, picking apart the Ole Miss secondary and throwing just one interception en route to the win.


vs Mississippi / 10.4.08 Passing Rushing
Comp Att Pct Yds TD Rush Yds Avg TD
Chris Smelley 22 32 68.8 327 3 9 -10 -1.1 0


Again, I couldn't see the game, so I can't vouch for his accuracy. But it's hard to complete nearly 70 percent of your passes without the kind of erratic arm that Smelley has displayed so far this year, so we'll assume there was some improvement. Smelley also continued to spread the ball around; nine players caught a pass.

3. Kenny McKinley returns; Jason Barnes welcomes him. The long-awaited return by K-Mc turned out to not be as big a deal as we thought it might. McKinley did okay, catching four passes for 58 yards. But it was Jason Barnes' night: The redshirt freshman caught two touchdown passes and rang up 76 yards on seven catches. Jared Cook also had a huge play: a 63-yard reception that led to the Gamecocks' first touchdown.

4. The defense is glad we won. And that's about all that can be said for it. Okay, that might be a bit much. But the once top-rated squad in the country coughed up 361 yards to Ole Miss, including 243 passing and 118 rushing. In fairness, 148 of those yards came in the first two Ole Miss drives. After that, the defense came up with three turnovers that contributed to the win. And the effort only dropped South Carolina to No. 6 in total defense, which is still pretty good.

5. Where from here? The Kentucky game is obviously huge at this point. After that comes LSU, then the bye, then two winnable games against Tennessee and Arkansas in Columbia. Trips to Florida and the Team from the Upstate are still intimidating. An eight-win season suddenly seems closer than it did Friday, but it could still take an upset. We'll know more Saturday.

GRADE: B+
Close to an A, but the defensive troubles can't continue. This team is still going to depend on keeping the other side to 21 points or less -- unless Saturday's outburst was what we can expect from the offense for the rest of the season, instead of an aberration. Even so, this was probably the best all-around game by South Carolina this year.

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