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October 14, 2013

Report Card: USC-Arkansas

Gamecock Central's Josh Low reviews the USC-Arkansas game and assigns a grade to each position group and the coaching staff.

Quarterback

It seems like the same thing can be written the same thing about Connor Shaw every week. He has been consistently good all season. He finished 19-of-28 passing for 219 yards and three touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown. He should have finished a little better if not for three drops early in the game. He is playing his best football right now and is still the most underrated quarterback in college football. He has been extremely accurate and his deep ball is still really good. Dylan Thompson added a touchdown pass and Brendan Nosovitch got his first action of his career and added a rushing touchdown. Grade: A-

Running Back

Mike

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Davis has been the most consistent Gamecock this year. He had 128 yards rushing on 19 carries and a touchdown in only three quarters of action. He finds whatever hole the offensive line gives him and takes it. I really like his cutback ability. He knows when to cut it outside at the line of scrimmage and is dangerous when doing so. Shon Carson got the most action he has seen in his career. He carried the ball 15 times and had some good runs. He did run it hard and showed a nice burst when he had room to run. Grade: A-

Wide Receiver

This unit started off a little slow. Kane Whitehurst had a drop and Damiere Byrd had two drops, one would have been a touchdown. After that, they performed well. Bruce Ellington was the target in the first half and finished with six receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Nick Jones had several big catches in the first half to move the chains. Byrd also bounced back and had a 45-yard touchdown reception on a beautiful play that he used his speed. I had heard Shamier Jeffery was doing well in practice so I wasn't surprised to see him more involved this week. That could be a trend with him. His confidence should only go up after this week. Whitehurst also had a touchdown grab in his return to Arkansas and Kwinton Smith had a reception as well. Grade: B+

Tight End

It is hard to grade this group on a game like this. Busta Anderson had one reception and that was it for the tight ends in the passing game. They did block well and it was good to see Kelvin Rainey get some playing time in the fourth quarter. Grade: B

Offensive Line

The offensive line deserves a lot of credit this week. Arkansas has two good defensive ends and they held them in check for the most part. Brandon Shell was the standout this week for the group. He did a good job in both run and pass blocking. Clayton Stadnik deserves mention for continuing to be consistent at center. Ronald Patrick has been dominant at times in run blocking. He does a good job when pulling as well. They need him to be healthy next week. There were times when they let a man come free in the middle on pass protection and it caused three sacks on Shaw. That was the only negative about the offensive line. They were dominant for the most part, definitely in the second half. Even the second group got push on their last touchdown drive when it was all running plays. Grade: A

Defensive Line

This may have been the best the defensive line has played all season. The stats certainly don't tell the story on Jadeveon Clowney in this game. His impact on the game was easy to see for anyone that actually watched the game. He was double-teamed, chipped, and even triple-teamed. He still got pressure on the quarterback on passing situations and ran the running back down from behind when they ran away from him. J.T. Surratt is quietly having a good season. He was solid and so was Kelcy Quarles. Grade: B

Linebacker/Spur

This group was solid overall but could have been better. Missed tackles were the biggest issue. Skai Moore was a standout among the linebackers. It sounds like he could be getting more playing time and that should be the case. He was good against the run and did wrap up. The spur position has been better over the last two weeks. It hasn't been great but there has been improvement from the position out of both Sharrod Golightly and Jordan Diggs. Golightly still misses some tackles and can't make some plays because of his size but improvement is there. Diggs was solid. Grade: C+

Secondary

Let's start with Chaz Elder in the secondary. He finished the Kentucky game looking good and he looked good Saturday. It sounds like he is going to be one of the starters at safety going forward and he is only going to get better with more experience. Jimmy Legree had a good day. His forced fumble in the second half was all effort by him. He is also the best tackler out of the cornerbacks. Victor Hampton made a really good play on his interception and changed the momentum in the game. He did miss way too many tackles. Overall, this group was much better against the pass. They didn't have any busted coverages. Obviously, they weren't facing the best passing game but only giving up four completions and 30 yards in the air is impressive. The tackling needs to be better. Grade: B-

Special Teams

The kicking game for South Carolina was good once again. Tyler Hull only had to punt one time and it was out of his own endzone and netted 42 yards. Elliott Fry continues to be perfect as a placekicker. Landon Ard had the one kickoff that went out of bounds but was good other than that. It doubtful there will be any more changes at returner on special teams. It certainly looks like Pharoh Cooper is the answer and you have to wonder why they didn't go to him earlier. The two penalties during punts that weren't returnable were bad plays but other than that, specials teams weren't bad. Grade: B-

Coaching

The coaches needed to send a message and it certainly looks like that message was received. Changes were needed on defense and the players that were benched got the message. With all of last week's drama, the players were focused and played their best game of the season. The game plans on offense and defense were good. A lot of credit needs to be given to the coaching staff. Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

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