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South Carolina Gamecocks report card: Kentucky edition

What grades did the team earn after Shane Beamer’s first win against a ranked opponent?

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it finally happened.

It may have taken them 10 years, but the South Carolina Gamecocks were able to take down Kentucky in Lexington.

May they have gotten lucky due to Kentucky’s star quarterback Will Levis sitting this one out? Maybe, but the win column doesn’t care!

Either way, this was a big victory, increasing USC’s win total to four with only two left to go until bowl eligibility.

My take overall take on the game is Levis doesn’t play defense. Him playing doesn’t erase Marshawn Lloyd’s big day or Juice Wells’ 42-yard score.

And it certainly does not take away a blocked punt.

South Carolina simply had the most success against Kentucky’s defense all year, and a quarterback’s attendance does not impact the 24 points put up by the offense.

A ranked win is a ranked win, and people need to start putting some respect on this team’s name.

Time for grades!

Offensive Grade: A

Listen, I know Spencer Rattler didn’t put on a clinic Saturday night, but I was aware (and most likely, so was the team) that Kentucky’s strength defensively was its pass defense.

That — and Lloyd’s success on the ground — was probably the reason why Rattler only threw 19 passes.

I don’t want to penalize a guy too much, even with a pick and a fumble, for just going with the plan. Did he miss some throws or make some bad decisions? Of course, but so did Anthony Richardson and Jaxson Dart against the Cats. Hell, they even played worse than Rattler.

I’ll take a 74% completion percentage while taking what the defense gives you... for this game. He will eat in the future, and this is one of the only passes I will give him.

As for someone who doesn’t need a pass because he ate, Marshawn Lloyd continued to play well, this time against an SEC defense. He rushed for 110 yards, including a touchdown, on 22 carries. There was also this run that he took for 45 yards, which was his longest run of the year!

It’s finally *his* run game, and after a slow couple of games to start the year, it’s been great seeing him succeed in his expanded role.

Let’s not forget about the offensive line making strides with both passing and run blocking, too! It felt nice seeing holes created for a running back and time for a quarterback to throw for a change.

Can’t leave out this screen to Wells that gave the Cocks the lead for them to never give it back as well. Really changed the tide.

Defensive Grade: A

Let’s be honest here.

The defense really did have a day, and it was against an inexperienced quarterback making his first start, but Kentucky did throw them a few bones.

I still don’t know what that play by Kentucky was to start the game, and I would categorize that more as a Wildcat mishap as opposed to a great play by the Cocks.

Then Kentucky’s Barion Brown decides to run nine yards in the wrong direction on the team’s third drive to once again force a punt.

There was a lot to love here from the D, like its five sacks, forcing Sheron to complete only 55% of his throws and Spaulding’s pick to seal the game, but all I’m saying is that unit did get some help.

The only criticism I had was allowing Chris Rodriguez, Jr. to run for 126 yards. The Cocks didn’t have much of an answer for him.

While the pass defense continues to improve, the run defense still leaves much to be desired.

But allowing 14 points to an SEC offense? I’ll take it.

Special Teams Grade: A

The special teams did have more time to shine today considering the Cocks weren’t in the middle of a blowout, which was the case for the past three weeks.

Let’s start with the blocked punt.

That was South Carolina’s fifth (!) block of the year, which apparently leads the nation. Always nice to be best in the country in something, no matter how big or how small the stat!

It was a great play, but the Cocks were unable to take advantage of it due to a fumble the following drive, obviously with great field position.

Kai Kroeger also played well, punting one inside the three-yard line and having one of the sexiest touchbacks of all time, which you can see below.

If that football was one blade of grass away from the endzone, it would have been downed inside the five, but it sadly was not. Either way, it shows what he is capable of, and it’s another highlight on the reel that he’s given us all season.

Mitch Jeter also continued to be money with his leg, making his only field goal of the day from 32 yards.

Beamer Ball is alive in well, even away from Columbia, South Carolina!

Overall Grade: A

You’re never going to bat 1.000, so I’m not going to expect perfection with the Cocks here either.

A win against a ranked opponent is always an accomplishment, no matter how it happens. Adding in the fact it was in Lexington makes the victory SO much sweeter, too.

The Gamecocks are now officially a legit team and, in my opinion, a win versus Texas A&M away from being ranked.

The offense is clicking, the defense maybe even more so and it is a fantastic day in South Carolina right about now.

Next up is a bye week to keep the good times going.