Grading the Gamecocks after a 31-21 home win against Missouri yesterday at Williams-Brice Stadium, their third straight victory and fifth of the season...
Passing Game: B+
Jake Bentley made very few off-target throws in his third start at the helm of the Gamecocks offense. Although he was sacked four times, it’s hard to really pin any of those on him as the Tigers defense were able to get past the offensive line at various points through the game. On several plays, Bentley showed great poise and excellent field vision, making a number of fine throws. Remember, he’s supposed to be a high school...never mind.
Passing Defense: B-
Drew Lock went over 300 yards (part of the reason why I gave them a B-), but was picked twice and was sacked three times. For the most part, though, the Gamecocks were able to limit chunks of yards through the air, and those were primarily limited to the Tigers’ first drive of the third quarter.
Rushing Offense: A
Rico Dowdle had a terrific day and showed why this staff was so high on him going into the season. His 20-yard touchdown run in the third was brilliant as he marched his way to a second straight 100+ yard rushing game and showed that he has the tools to be a leading back in this conference. A.J. Turner didn’t get much before spraining his knee, but ideally a two-back system is possible if he and Dowdle are going at full strength.
Rushing Defense: C
Not the worst day for the defense in this department, but not a great one either as Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter were both allowed to get into the end zone untouched. The Tigers did get away from the run somewhat later in the game as (credit to the defense) the Gamecocks started to stiffen a little and keep Mizzou hemmed in on the ground. Again, not great, but far from perfect yesterday.
Special Teams: B
Congrats to Elliott Fry on becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer. He did miss from 46, but the Gamecocks would end up grabbing the lead and winning anyway. Sean Kelly had a pretty good day. Kick and punt defense teams didn’t give up any huge returns and were good in coverage. Gamecocks’ return team was non-existent - literally - as the team never got a touch in that department.
High marks to Kurt Roper on not abandoning the run and continuing to make Deebo Samuel a focal point of this offense. I didn’t like the punt on 4th and 2 at the Mizzou 44, or the lack of urgency during the final drive of the second quarter. But Will Muschamp had his team focused, especially during the latter parts of the game, and the team was able to make key plays down the stretch to keep the Tigers from mounting a comeback and destroying the Gamecocks’ momentum as they continue their quest for a bowl appearance.