Report Card: USC-UCF

dcloninger@thestate.comSeptember 30, 2013 

South Carolina's Rory Anderson is tackled in the first half of the game.

KIM KIM FOSTER-TOBIN — kkfoster@thestate.com

David Cloninger looks at every aspect of South Carolina’s last game and assigns a grade. Go to the head of the class if the grades you assigned the Gamecocks match his.

NO. 12 SOUTH CAROLINA 28, UCF 25

Quarterback
Dylan Thompson played the great majority of the game, and even he said that he was off. He missed a lot of throws that he normally makes – and really just kind of lofted the ball, no zip or touch, instead of passing it -- but also hung in under pressure and took the hit in order to complete a wide-open dump-off to the middle. He managed the game pretty well as USC got going. Connor Shaw only had the one series, and it ended in a fumble and an injury. All in all, average.
GRADE: C

Running back
Mike Davis is the reason USC is 3-1, instead of 2-2. As Twitter screamed for Steve Spurrier to quit fooling around and give Davis the ball, he finally did, and Davis responded with 167 yards and three touchdowns. He bulldozed, spun, broke and battled for the Gamecocks as they pulled away (for a brief time). Only reason this isn’t a top-top grade is because of that goal-line fumble. Sure, his blocking disappeared, and it looked to me like a helmet hit right on the ball, but just cannot put the ball on the ground in that situation.
GRADE: A

Wide receiver
Damiere Byrd got his turn and responded, which was nice to see after a career filled with consistency. He caught the ball when targeted, and that’s all you can ask. As a group, USC struggled early to get open, but that was solved later, by returning to the short field when Thompson got in trouble. Not an outstanding game, but a solid one.
GRADE: B

Tight end
Glad to see Busta Anderson remembered how to play. For a while there, I was wondering if I was the one that jinxed him into having such an off season. He got open and despite only having two catches for 34 yards, he was in position for a touchdown until Thompson air-mailed him to the end zone. Jerell Adams also caught Thompson’s eyes on a blitz and nearly broke for a score.
GRADE: A

Offensive line
Raise your hand if you had two USC offensive linemen being recognized in the SEC weekly awards in back-to-back games. Me neither. A.J. Cann was the latest recipient, and the line has been very good all year. Yes, it’s different blocking for Thompson over Shaw, but the Gamecocks only allowed one sack. It sprung Davis for his gains and is playing consistent, even with Cody Waldrop again getting injured. No complaints at all.
GRADE: A

Defensive line
It’s apparently just going to be the buzzword that the D-line, thought to be the strength of USC’s defense this year, is just not going to produce on the level that it was thought to. Another solid-but-not-spectacular effort, the line not getting a lot of pressure on Blake Bortles and letting Storm Johnson amass several yards after contact. Gerald Dixon had his best game, but I’m still wondering where Kelcy Quarles is. Every time I look up, he’s either coming off the field or being a non-factor on it. We’ve talked enough about Jadeveon Clowney.
GRADE: C

Linebackers
Marcquis Roberts contributed to a tackle for loss and T.J. Holloman had five tackles to help lead the team, along with an interception. The good thing about the group is it’s a big part of why UCF’s overall rushing game went nowhere. The bad thing about the group is it’s also in the answer box of why USC can’t cover a receiver in the second level.
GRADE: C

Defensive backs
Spur and defensive backs alike constantly let receivers run in front of them, past them, out of tackles and through coverages. Sharrod Golightly made a perfectly textbook bump-the-receiver off the line play, once. That was all. Victor Hampton played a good game, with a pick and playing his man pretty well, but the rest of these guys …
GRADE: F

Special teams
Elliott Fry continues to be solid, and Tyler Hull is doing well. It’s just that he always has that one bad punt per game. This one wasn’t his fault, as he got a bad snap and still tried to make something happen. Coverage again allowed a long return, and the return game went nowhere. The one return was Bruce Ellington on the hands team. But outside of the bad snap and the long return, nothing too terrible.
GRADE: C

OVERALL GRADE: C

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