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South Carolina vs. Coastal Carolina report card

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Grading the Gamecocks after their 49-15 win over the Chanticleers on Saturday.

NCAA Football: Coastal Carolina at South Carolina Brian Westerholt-USA TODAY Sports

Passing offense: South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley quietly had the game of his young career on Saturday. The junior signal-caller completed 22 of 29 passes for 250 yards and a career-high 4 touchdowns. With the win all but secured, back-up QB Michael Scarnecchia even got in on the action, going 3-for-6 for 44 yards and another score, the first of his career. South Carolina’s quarterbacks were generous in their first regular season outing under new offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon, with 11 (!) different pass catchers. Redshirt senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel had a team-high 7 catches, while sophomore WR Shi Smith led the Gamecocks with 61 yards on 4 catches. GRADE: A+

Passing defense: Coastal Carolina quarterbacks completed 13 of 18 passes for 112 yards and 1 touchdown. The majority of the Chanticleers’ yards through the air came underneath as the team averaged 6.2 yards per pass, with the longest pass being 20 yards. The Gamecocks young secondary got a lot of playing time in the second half and played as well as you’d expect a unproven, inexperienced group to do in its first in-game action. Freshman cornerback Jaycee Horn looked every bit the first-year phenom he was billed to be, posting 3 total tackles and 1 highlight-reel sack. Overall, there’s room for improvement from the unit, but live reps and game film are the first step in that direction. GRADE: B-

Rushing offense: Not to be outdone by their backfield counterparts, South Carolina running backs shined on Saturday as well. Gamecocks rushers totaled 263 yards on 38 attempts; that’s a whopping 6.9 yards per carry. Junior running back Rico Dowdle was electric, posting the fourth 100-yard rushing game of his career with 105 yards and 1 touchdown on 15 carries. Redshirt junior RB Ty’Son Williams added 82 yards and another score. Former Lexington (S.C.) High School standout Slade Carroll even got in on the action in the fourth quarter, finishing with 46 yards on just 4 carries. GRADE: A+

Rushing defense: The Chanticleers seemed intent on running the ball against the Gamecocks - and fortunately, they were ready. Coastal posted 126 total yards on 39 attempts, averaging 3.2 yards per carry. The Chanticleers were creative running the ball, with plenty of option plays and misdirection, but the Gamecocks hung tough. Junior linebacker T.J. Brunson led the team with 6 tackles, while massive junior defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw added 5 total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in the trenches. Clemson transfer DT Josh Belk posted a tackle just days after being cleared for action by the NCAA! GRADE: A

Special teams: Samuel and redshirt junior RB A.J. Turner combined for 107 yards on 5 kick off returns. Junior WR Bryan Edwards was solid in punt returns, with one 3-yard return and several sure-handed fair catches. The always-reliable Joseph Charlton was just that in his singular punt in the game; booting it for 46 yards. Kickers Parker White and Will Tommie were steady in forcing touch backs on all 8 of kickoffs. And the coup de gras; White drilled all 7 extra point attempts. GRADE: A+

Coaching: McClendon was as-advertised in his first game as full-time offensive coordinator as the Gamecocks posted the second-most yardage in the Will Muschamp era. The Gamecocks even went for it three times on fourth down. Three! The defense showed its youth, but nothing defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson and Muschamp can’t correct. GRADE: A+