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South Carolina vs. N.C. State report card: High marks to kick off 2017

Grading the Gamecocks after a 35-28 victory over the Wolfpack in Charlotte on Saturday.

North Carolina State v South Carolina Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Passing game: It wasn’t a flawless afternoon for Jake Bentley, but he made some big plays when necessary with both his arm and his feet to lead the Gamecocks to the win. He did force a ball into coverage that was picked off and show some poor awareness in running the ball out of bounds in the fourth to stop the clock (benefiting N.C. State), but things like that can be rectified. Deebo showed that he can be one of the top receiving threats in the SEC and the country. Shi Smith had a good opening game. And did anyone see Hayden Hurst? GRADE: B-

Passing defense: This grade gets weighted because of the adjustments the Gamecocks made at halftime, without which would mean a much different result. Ryan Finley threw for a career-high in passing yards partly because he finished with 64 attempts and had receivers open to throw to all afternoon. As Chris said earlier, the Gamecocks had to compensate for their lack of pass rush by playing cover defense on their receivers instead of press, which, while it limited the Wolfpack from making really big yardage plays, allowed them to move the ball up the field in chunks and sustain drives. Again, there were adjustments made that saw the Gamecocks correct course - credit to Travaris Robinson - but let’s hope improvement is on the way. Tough start for Jamyest Williams before a better performance later on. Good stuff from D.J. Smith and Rashad Fenton; disappointing game from Jamarcus King. GRADE: C

Rushing offense: Umm... GRADE: D-

Rushing defense: 35 attempts, 89 yards. The least amount of yardage allowed by the Gamecocks in nearly two years. That’s a good sign. So is 11.5 TFLs by the defense. D.J. Wonnum is a beast on the line, BTW. GRADE: A

Special teams: This grade gets heavily weighted thanks to Deebo Samuel’s house call on the opening kickoff. Alongside that, the return game performed fairly decently on Saturday. Defending the return wasn’t terrible, but could have done better with limiting the Wolfpack just a little bit more. Punter Joseph Charlton was shaky in his first action but benefited from some nice bounces, so let’s hope it’s just some jitters the redshirt sophomore has to work out. GRADE: B-

Coaching: It was all about the adjustments in the second half that helped the Gamecocks hold on. Overall, not a perfect game plan on either side of the ball, but it’s a great starting point for the staff to work on as they prepare for Drew Lock and Mizzou on Saturday at Faurot Field. GRADE: B

Agree/disagree with my grades? Let me know in the comments!