The grade book comes out once again, this time after an important 31-13 win after Mizzou to open the season 2-0 for the first time since 2012 and start out 1-0 in SEC play. As you might imagine, the marks are high this week.
Passing offense: Jake Bentley was a little wild to open the game as he overshot his receivers several times in the first quarter. Once he settled down, though, he was very good; his 80-yard drive in the 3rd was probably one of the more efficient ones I’ve seen this team put together in the Muschamp era. He didn’t put up scary numbers but did a much better job of reading the game and hitting his receivers as the night went on. Most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over. Not a bad night for the sophomore signal caller on the road. GRADE: A-
Passing defense: Drew Lock had one big play: a 66-yard score to Jason Reese in the first quarter to make it 10-0 Mizzou. Outside of that: 13-31, 184 yards and two interceptions. (Funny how you have a little more trouble passing against an FBS team than you do a FCS team, right?) A much, much better performance from the defense in keeping the action in front of them and limiting Lock’s effectiveness. Jamyest Williams’ first career pick set up the Gamecocks’ go-ahead score in the first half and Bryson Allen Williams’ fourth-quarter INT all but ended the night for the Tigers. GRADE: A-/B+
Rushing offense: In the first half, there was a sense of deja vu as the Gamecocks couldn’t get the ball moving on the ground (16 carries on 51 yards). But it’s all about those adjustments: they came up with 121 yards on 24 carries, including 12 for 65 in an important third quarter. Ty’Son Williams showed why he was so highly touted as a transfer by helping the Gamecocks not only move the ball down the field but eat up clock. Rico Dowdle seemed to build confidence and break down the defense line more effectively as the night moved forward. GRADE: B+
Rushing defense: It appeared based on the first half that the Tigers would simply run all over the Gamecocks - 22 carries for 118 yards in the first 30 minutes. But the South Carolina defense buckled down, only allowing 15 for 60 down the stretch. (Those second-half adjustments!) A more consistent performance throughout the entire game earns them a higher grade, but overall a good showing. GRADE: B-
Special teams: Joseph Charlton had a boomer but was up-and-down after that; Alexander Woznick missed a short one from 33 (that hurts the final grade a little). Other than that, a good night for the unit both from a return and coverage standpoint, including a blocked field goal to go along with it. Oh, and Deebo. GRADE: A-
Coaching: Despite a shaky start, the staff was able to put it all together as the game progressed. Kurt Roper executed an excellent game plan for the offense in the second half and Travaris Robinson’s defense improved throughout, limiting the big plays and making stops when they needed to the most. Barry Odom knew that he was outcoached last night; anyone watching would have to agree wholeheartedly. This was a big win in a hostile environment and an important one to start the Gamecocks on the right foot in conference play. GRADE: A