This was supposed to be a “get right” game for South Carolina, and I can confidently say they accomplished that on both sides of the ball.
The offense was able to get the run game going, the offensive line dramatically improved (let’s not forget the opponent, though) and the defense was able to make some plays as well.
For a half, I was convinced this was going to be a four-quarter contest, but the team we thought was going to show up finally did in the third act.
Overall, I was impressed. South Carolina made some real strides that I believe can get carried over into South Carolina State and beyond.
On to the marks!
Offensive Grade: A
How could the Cocks receive less than an “A” after putting up 56 points, the most since scoring 72 points in 2019 against Charleston Southern?
There was no “bad” to be seen, only “good” and “less good.”
As for the “good,” there was Marshawn Lloyd.
The talent was always there, but it was finally made public Saturday night.
Averaging a whopping 11.3 yards per carry, Lloyd carried the ball 15 times for 169 yards while adding three touchdowns, including this one.
It’s yet to be known if he will keep this up against higher quality teams after averaging 2.7, 3.3 and 2.4 YPG respectively over his first three contests in 2022, but it is undoubtedly a welcome sight for a guy you can’t help but cheer for.
Another feel-good story was Corey Rucker’s touchdown in garbage time on a 52-yard pass from Luke Doty.
Last week was his first time touching the field, and he sure made the most of it. Hopefully we see more from this young man in the future. Well done!
Headlining the “less good” section, we have yet to witness a Spencer Rattler sighting, even against Charlotte’s defense.
As sad as it sounds, someone dropped the term “game manager” during the broadcast, and it is getting more and more realistic as games continue to roll by.
We’ve seen him let it loose, but whether it be conservative play-calling or not enough time to throw (although that was not a problem this week), it hasn’t followed him to Columbia yet.
He did throw for a good bit against Arkansas, but that also tends to happen with 39 pass attempts.
Hoping for Rattler to put on a clinic sometime in the near future, and there will be a fantastic opportunity to do so next week against South Carolina State!
Defensive Grade: B+
As we all know, things did not start out the best on this side of the ball.
Two touchdowns on two lengthy drives for a team like Charlotte to kick off the game is not what the doctor ordered for a struggling defense.
Charlotte also started the game 7-for-7 on third down conversions. South Carolina had its chances to get the 49ers off the field, it just struggled to do so.
Then the second half happened.
In my mind, it’s not about how you start but how you finish, and that’s how they earned this B+ grade.
Remember how Charlotte started 7-for-7 on third down? Well, they closed the game going 1-for-7.
Remember how the 49ers started the game with two touchdowns? Well, it took them six drives into the second half to get another.
Remember how the Cocks went into game four of 2022 having forced only one turnover all year? Well, USC had interceptions on three consecutive drives, all of which resulted in touchdowns for the Gamecocks on the following possession.
Good defense creates a good offense at times, and South Carolina piggybacked off of its defense to transform a 28-14 lead into a 49-14 lead.
Shoutout to Brad Johnson, DQ Smith and Cam Smith for making the plays.
Special Teams: B+
Things went just about as planned.
Mitch Jeter went 2-for-2 on field goals, making two chip shots from 25 yards and 27 yards out.
South Carolina didn’t even have to punt during the whole game, so that removes that aspect of special teams as well.
The only reason I deducted half a letter from its grade was because of the block in the back by Jalen Brooks to wipe a beautiful Josh Vann punt return, which would have given the special teams an A++++ grade.
What could have been, right?
Overall Grade: A
They came, they saw, they conquered.
South Carolina took care of business and won the game they needed to win.
Much of the same is to be expected next week, so I really hope the Cocks don’t take this high they are feeling right now and sleepwalk into the South Carolina State game.
As for the Charlotte game, I approve!