South Carolina report card: Gamecocks show improvement in loss
Despite being more than a two-touchdown underdog against Texas A&M, South Carolina made things interesting on the road on Halloween afternoon. The Gamecocks fell 35-28 but had a chance to force overtime with less than two minutes remaining. The following are the grades the Gamecocks deserve based on that performance:
It was a mixed bag when it came to South Carolina’s offensive performance. On one hand, the Gamecocks piled up a season-high 455 yards of offense. On the other, junior quarterback Perry Orth threw two crushing interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown and another that sealed the loss. As interim coach Shawn Elliott alluded to earlier in the week, the team utilized special packages for freshman Lorenzo Nunez, and that turned out to be a successful game plan. The Gamecocks nearly kept pace with the high-powered Aggies offense, so that’s something to take away from the game.
South Carolina allowed 544 yards of offense, which was actually an improvement over last year’s performance, in which it allowed 680 yards against its opponents from College Station, Texas. Skai Moore continues to be one of the SEC’s least heralded stars, recording a team-high 14 tackles. South Carolina even got a stop late in the fourth quarter to force a punt and give its offense one last chance to tie the game. Any time a defense allows 35 points and more than 500 yards of offense, it’s a concern, but the defense was the most impressive unit on this particular Saturday.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
There is not much to harp on in this phase of the game. South Carolina kicker Elliott Fry didn’t even attempt a field goal, and there were not any kickoff or punt returns that changed the outcome. All things considered, it was a very average game for the Gamecocks’ special teams unit — nothing truly helped the team be competitive, but nothing led to the loss either.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway is how Elliott gets the most out of his players. As more than a two-touchdown underdog, South Carolina could have easily collapsed and been blown out. Instead, the players fought hard, a product of the way Elliott motivates them. This South Carolina team plays hard, even in losses, and makes games more competitive than they were earlier in the year. That’s a testament to the interim coach.
South Carolina put forth a valiant effort against Texas A&M, which is encouraging as the Gamecocks move forward to Tennessee. The offense amassed a season high in yards, while the defense showed signs of life against one of the SEC’s better offenses. There were positives on both sides of the ball, though the team was unable to put it all together for a full four quarters.