South Carolina defeated UAB 49-6. The Gamecocks didn't come out playing great football, but we clearly outmatched UAB and that become more and more clear throughout the game. The game wasn't too surprising in that sense, but we did learn some interesting things from this game. Let's take a closer look in this edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
Dylan Thompson. Thompson struggled for the first few plays of the second half after he took over for a reinjured Connor Shaw, and he threw one ball that definitely should have been intercepted, but after completing a long pass to Bruce Ellington and then scoring a TD with his feet, Thompson settled in and played well--better, even, than his game against ECU. The TDs to Damiere Byrd and Shaq Roland were really pretty throws.
I've been a supporter of Connor Shaw remaining the starter, but after watching this game, I'm not so sure. I still think a healthy Shaw should start, but we're clearly talking about an 80% or so Shaw--at best--for the time being. He looked tentative and was clearly in pain even before he took the hard hit. That Shaw isn't better than what Thompson brought tonight, as was clear from how much more effective the offense was in the second half. I'm thinking that if Shaw is still hurting this week, we should go with Thompson against Mizzou. I believe he can help us beat the Tigers.
Bruce Ellington. Nothing against Ace Sanders, who also played well tonight, but I'm beginning to believe that Ellington is our best receiver. He made some nice catches with defenders draped on him, and he remains elusive after the catch. That little screen pass that he gained a first down on was a thing of beauty, and I hope we run that kind of play a bit more often. In any event, Ellington has clearly elevated his game and is beginning to look like a guy who has an outside shot at All-SEC recognition.
Jadeveon Clowney. After having a very disruptive game but not getting any sacks against ECU, Clowney padded his stats with two sacks and two additional TFL against UAB. He was also involved in a couple of other impressive defensive plays, and notched a career high seven tackles overall. He's running around in the backfield more or less constantly. Very impressive game for Clowney.
D.J. Swearinger. It was another good game for Swearinger, who returned a fumble for a TD and made a nice interception that was negated due to a roughing-the-passer penalty. So far, Swearinger has lived up to his billing as the leader of this defense.
Mike Davis. I really like Kenny Miles, but I'll be surprised if Davis isn't the second-team tailback by the end of the year. His vision and shiftiness are impressive. I'd like to see how he does against better competition.
Shaq Roland. Good to see him and Thompson connect on the long TD. Hopefully that will help his confidence and lead to more big plays as the season progresses.
Keep reading after the jump.
Penalties. The Gamecocks committed some dumb penalties in this game, the kind of stuff that can really get you in trouble against better competition. The one that really stuck out to me was the roughing penalty on DeVonte Holloman. It looked like the UAB quarterback must have said something to upset Holloman, and it was my impression that the Blazers had a few punks on the roster, but still, there's no excuse for what Holloman did. That kind of action will be flagged every time, and Holloman needed to be the bigger man there.
Offensive line play. Line play wasn't awful, and it got better in the second half, but I still would have liked to see fewer sacks and more holes for the tailbacks. This group can be better than this.
Pass defense. Like the offensive line, the pass defense got better as the game went on, partly because the defensive line began getting to the QB more and more. Early in the game, though, it gave up some plays to a decent UAB passing attack. We also left a couple of interceptions on the field. This group, too, can be better, even though I think you have to give them credit and say they've been better than expected so far.
The officiating. Yet again, it stunk, although it oftentimes went in Carolina's favor in this particular game. I was really surprised that a helmet-to-helmet hit wasn't called on the play where Andrew Clifford ran for a first down. It wasn't just helmet-to-helmet, but it actually looked like a dirty hit. The refs could at least try to be consistent after calling the same penalty on Swearinger on a play that looked less egregious to me.