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South Carolina Gamecocks report card: S.C. State edition

Another successful outing against a non-conference opponent

NCAA Football: South Carolina State at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

This was game two of two in the short stretch of “get right” games for South Carolina, and the Gamecocks once again dominated, defeating SC State by the score of 50-10.

It was the first time since 1995 where USC scored at least 50 points in two consecutive contests.

You could tell from the start that the game plan had an emphasis on the pass as opposed to last week’s run-heavy approach, and Spencer Rattler played a game we knew he was capable of.

Despite that, the offense once again struggled to get going in the first quarter. Yes, a touchdown was finally scored in that frame, but the other two drives ended in a pick and a punt.

On the other side of the ball, the Gamecock defense succeeded in forcing turnovers, which later translated to scores on two of three drives.

Although USC performed well in mainly all aspects, SC State’s penalty problem undoubtedly did the Gamecocks some favors, getting flagged on 12 plays for 117 yards!

Let’s just hope some of these positives follow the Gamecocks to Kentucky.

Now for the grades.

Offensive Grade: B+

My grade is only reflective of the first-team offense, which played for the first three quarters.

While 36 points is one hell of a performance, the two picks left a sour taste in my mouth. So, I docked half of a letter grade for that.

I felt Rattler played very well, completing 21-of-27 for 212 yards, two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown, but the stat sheet had to plague his numbers with two picks due to a pair of mishaps by Xavier Legette on mainly accurate throws.

The offense could have done even more damage if those promising drives weren’t cut off prematurely.

This game opened my eyes to the fact that maybe Rattler’s slow start to the year was *partly* due to the fact that he needs more help from his receivers at times.

Enough with the bad, though.

Marshawn Lloyd continued his string of impressive games, averaging 7.3 yards per carry on 11 runs for 80 yards. He also contributed two touchdowns, one through the air and one on the ground.

Like I said, the run game took a bit of a back seat, not because of ineffectiveness but because I’m sure the offense wanted to finally put some emphasis on the pass during game action, especially with big-time SEC games yet to kick off.

Even with less attention, Lloyd still delivered.

Lastly, South Carolina’s nine-play, 95-yard drive that kicked off with 1:46 remaining in the first quarter was its longest of the year, and it always feels great to see an offense take advantage of a bad hand being dealt to them.

Defensive Grade: A

The defense continued to have its way.

With the exception of one scoring drive right after the half, SC State was completely shut down and unable to get anything going.

Through three quarters, the Bulldogs had only 160 yards of total offense.

Additionally, they were only able to pass for 75 yards the whole night, with 62 of them going to one guy: Shaquan Davis.

SC State only had three drives lasting more than five plays as well, mainly due to the Bulldogs going 1-for-11 on third down. Not great.

The Gamecocks were able to continue forcing turnovers, too, picking them off three times. That now gives USC six interceptions spanning the last two games.

Getting pressure on the quarterback is something to focus on in the future, only logging one sack for the game, but I’m nitpicking at this point.

Now that we know the Gamecock defense can handle Charlotte and SC State, let’s see how it fares in the future.

Special Teams Grade: C

Like I said last week, South Carolina barely punts or even kicks field goals in blowouts like these, so I can only judge off of small sample sizes of action.

This week’s standout play was at the conclusion of SC State’s second drive of the second half.

Following a partially blocked punt (a good thing), Josh Vann proceeds to touch the ball and give possession back to the Bulldogs (a bad thing).

Yes, SC State blew it and managed to throw an interception just a few plays later, but the Cocks won’t get lucky like that against better teams.

Need to clean that up.

Overall Grade: A

Let’s not get crazy here.

South Carolina still covered the spread, which means it exceeded expectations, and played a solid game.

I’m not going to let a muffed punt, two picks and allowing one touchdown change my opinion.

I wish the Gamecocks could get easy dubs like this every week, but the conference slate resumes next Saturday night in Lexington against the Kentucky Wildcats for what will be South Carolina’s first test in three weeks.

I’m going to close this article with some highlights from Thursday to keep the good vibes coming until next week.