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Positive Takeaways & Observations from South Carolina's 45-24 Loss at LSU

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The Gamecocks used a resurgent passing attack and special teams to keep it close for a half and give the fanbase reason for optimism.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

A game of inches.

Colloquialism. Coach speak. Al Pacino's speech from "Any Given Sunday".

Whatever you want to call it, "a game of inches" certainly applies to last Saturday's contest in Death Valley.

Two inches to his left and Jordan Diggs make that tackle on Leonard Fournette's 87-yard dash. A second earlier, DJ Smith gets that red zone interception. An inch higher and LSU WR DeSean Smith's deflection doesn't fall perfectly into the arms of a streaking Travin Dural.

A Gamecock victory with a few lucky breaks? Eh, I don't know about that. I'm not saying had these three instances played out as described above that the 45-24 final would've been all that different. One look at the stat sheet would tell you that much.

But, it wouldn't be a stretch to think these three swing plays didn't have a larger effect on the momentum and outcome of the game. Final score aside, one has to feel like the arrow for Gamecock football in 2015 is pointing up - even at the slightest of angles.

Oh Hello, Passing Game

Now, it may not be the balance we're all looking for, but 200 yards passing is nothing to sneeze at from this 2015 iteration of the Gamecocks. The LSU game marked only the second time this season the USC quarterback platoon has combined 200 yards plus through the air.

Everyone's favorite former backup, Perry Orth, completed only 50% of his passes, but snuck two touchdowns in there too - an accessory to a Pharoh Cooper highlight and a heave to Jerell Adams.

Seeing Adams gallop through a secondary like LSU's has to make you excited for the future of 6'6" behemoth - of course, unfortunately now that future is likely just six more games.

Senior wide receiver Shamier Jeffery posted his second-best game in garnet - three grabs for 35 yards, including a Alshon-esque bobble and snag.

No one will confuse Orth, Adams and Jeffery for blue chip freshmen, but each put up enough positives on Saturday to make fans feel a little better about the air attack moving forward.

One Sack? One Sack!

No, this isn't the LSU defensive line of old. They're nowhere near the top 25 in team sacks and may not have a household name...yet.

But with a barely-there running game forcing your second, no, third, no starting quarterback drop back 30 times, on the road in the SEC, I'll happily take only one sack given up.

I know, I know, a singular sack was also surrendered at the drubbing in Athens - but that was with only 22 drop backs and a much more ground-based attack (attack may be a stretch there). The LSU game saw 39 rushing attempts to 20 against UGA.

No. 10 in white clearly looked more comfortable and confident in the pocket, thanks to solid, improved protection in the trenches. That's good news if the running game continues to get bogged down.

Rashad Freaking Fenton

The true freshman broke a 13-year dry spell for the University. Not since Matthew Thomas vs. Virginia in 2002 has a Gamecock returned a kickoff for a touchdown. On his first touch of the season no less!

Fenton boasted an impressive offer list, but impact freshmen not named Marcus Lattimore have been few and far between for the OBC (/crying face) and his teams at Carolina. They've rarely seen the field, if we're being honest.

More than just his own skill set, I'm hopeful the Miami native's 96-yard sprint shines a light on all the freshmen's talents. Whether it be for Shawn Elliot, G.A. Mangus or Jon Hoke, the stigma behind playing true freshmen surely took a hit with Fenton's big play.

***

The score may not have indicated it and this week's obvious coaching craziness may have left fans further in doubt, but make no mistake, there were plenty of positives to take away from South Carolina's last "home" game against a potentially playoff-bound LSU team.