Grading the Gamecocks: Akron
After a string of really good performances, Jake Bentley had a weirdly average game. He picked up 199 yards but did pass for three touchdowns to two interceptions. He made a few good reads but had his share of mistakes, too.
Running back: C
Mon Denson and Rico Dowdle combined for 199 yards rushing and around 6.5 yards per carry but Dowdle fumbled once and other than those two they combined for minus-11 yards rushing.
Denson and Dowdle also combined for a handful of explosive plays as well.
Wide receivers/tight end: B-
Admittedly, this is grading on a curve with Bryan Edwards and Deebo Samuel doing enough to pull the grade up to a B as they were incredibly productive when they touched the ball. Samuel had 33 yards receiving but caught two touchdowns to move to second all-time in receiving touchdowns in a season.
Edwards had 109 yards, 70 of those coming on one play, a touchdown grab in the first quarter. Other than them, the Gamecock receivers had 57 yards on five catches and Kiel Pollard fumbled once.
Offensive line: C-
After showing out against a vaunted Clemson defensive line, the unit didn't do that against the Zips Saturday. Bentley was pressured it seems like most of the day and was sacked twice. The line did play well in spurts, but it wasn't necessarily the performance the team was used to getting from the front five.
The most glaring play was the Gamecocks not picking up a fourth and short late in the second half.
Defensive line: B+
Playing with limited numbers, the defensive line was a bright spot. J.J. Enagbare, who missed last week with a head injury, showed out in a big way. He tied the team high in tackles with six and racked up his first-career sack. As a whole, the defensive line sacked Kato Nelson five times and the Zips averaged two yards a carry.
There were a few big plays over the middle that the linebackers were complicit in giving up, but the group had an all-round good day. T.J. Brunson had six tackles and Ernest Jones continues to show some serious upside, registering his first-career fumble recovery.
Sherrod Greene also recovered a fumble and had four tackles.
It's a group limping to the finish line with the number of injuries in the backfield, but as a whole they played well. Israel Mukuamu, in his first career start, had five tackles and a pass breakup. The secondary didn't pick up an interception, but did deflect a lot of passes as Nelson completed fewer than half of his passes.
Special teams: A
Joseph Charlton averaged just 38 yards a punt but had four of his six downed inside the 20-yard line, including at least two inside the five. Edwards also had a big 21-yard punt return to set up the Gamecocks' first touchdown Saturday and four of Will Tommie's kick-offs went for touchbacks.
Samuel also had a special teams touchdown, recovering a snap that went over the punter's head in the end zone.