COLUMBIA, S.C. — Some things were fairly obvious during South Carolina’s win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday. The offense was stuck in the mud for three quarters. The defense bent, but didn’t break. The kicking game was up and down.
Here are this week’s grades from SEC Country:
There’s no good way to slice a three-quarter shutout at home against a Conference USA opponent. It stinks.
That’s not a shot at any specific part of the operation. From the coaching, execution and forces of football nature, the growing pains with a sophomore quarterback continued throughout the first three quarters before things just sort of clicked.
Maybe we learned something about this team and its quarterback when the best, most reliable and versatile playmaker and the best, most reliable offensive lineman aren’t playing.
The final drive certainly kept this thing from turning into a complete and utter disaster.
So, yeah, losing two of your best, most reliable starters isn’t easy. Bryson Allen-Williams was missed and that won’t change until 2018, in more ways than one. At least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel in 2017 for Dante Sawyer.
The long, time-consuming drives by opposing offenses is still a concern, and Louisiana Tech had more than a few of them.
On the positive side, South Carolina allowed Louisiana Tech to score just one touchdown out of four red-zone trips, one of which ended with an interception by Jamarcus King. Plus, the Gamecocks bowed up on third down in in the fourth quarter, not allowing a single conversion on three third-down attempts.
Special teams: C
Does the game-winning kick trump the two misses? In this game, with this team, at this point in the season, those are the only special-teams plays that mattered.
Seriously. From the high of last week’s buildup, to the disappointment in the Kentucky loss and the low of the postgame injury news for Deebo Samuel, Zack Bailey, Allen-Williams and Sawyer, some kudos are in order Will Muschamp & Co.
It’s easy to nit-pick the play-calling, but 8.4 yards per pass is pretty good and 4.5 yards per rush isn’t too bad either. Besides, it can’t be easy calling plays when your best playmaker is sitting next to you in the press box.