Grading The Gamecocks Victory Over Florida

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After coming back to win 23-20, one of the best things we do is grading the Gamecocks victory over Florida.  It was definitely an unusual game in many different ways, and because of that becomes very difficult to grade.  For example, the Gamecocks offense and it’s line was nearly perfect in the first quarter, but then struggled for most of the game until the last minute and overtime.  Ultimately what matters is that the Gamecocks came away with a victory 23-20, not only showing they could come from behind to win, but ending a 4 game SEC losing streak.

Rushing Offense – The Gamecocks came out of the gate strong here, and looked like they were going to pound the ball all night.  After the first two drives, they had over 50 yards rushing, and play after play went for good yardage, including a 20 yard touchdown run by Brandon Wilds.  However, for the rest of regulation, they could barely move the ball, especially on the ground.  They finished with 95 total rushing yards, and 23 of those came in overtime, which means they had about 20 yards in the second, third and fourth quarters combined.  But the first quarter they were dominant, and in overtime, unlike last week, they pounded the ball almost every play and finished with a score and a win.  Definitely not a strength against the Gators.   Overall Grade C-

Passing Offense – Again the Gamecocks and Dylan Thompson came out on fire to start the game.  Dylan hit 8 of his first 9 passes, with the only incompletion coming when a ref stepped into the pass.  However, he went 14 for his next 33 attempts, with a combination of balls thrown away from the rush, overthrown receivers, and definitely a few dropped passes.  Dylan seemed very concerned about getting hit, almost wincing before the hit came, shuffling his feet a lot, patting the ball and then ultimately had a running lane open in front of him several times but chose to throw the ball away, again seeming scared to get hit at all.   The one real positive here, though, was that Dylan made much better decisions this week, at least in terms of throwing the ball away instead of taking the sack. or throwing into coverage.  Overall Grade C-  

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Rushing Defense – The Gamecocks seemed to play really soft against the run, and it allowed Florida 218 yards on the ground, with more than half of them coming from their quarterback Treon Harris.  They’ve always seemed to struggle against running quarterbacks and Saturday was no exception as he averaged more than 5 yards per carry and seemed to go wherever he wanted.  They did make big plays when they were needed the most though, and this lead to only giving up 278 total yards, the least amount all season.  Nonetheless they were not able to stop the run.  Overall Grade D

Passing Defense – In contrast to the rushing defense, the Gamecocks only gave up 60 yards passing and the Gators completed less than 50% of their passes.  They did this through good coverage from the backs as there was still very little pressure on the quarterback.  But to only give up 60 yards passing to any SEC team is an accomplishment.  Overall Grade A

Special Teams – Definitely a change from early in the season.  Obviously they were heroes with a blocked field goal and a blocked punt within a two minute span.  However, they also held the Gators to very few return yards, with only 32 total return yards from one of the most explosive players in the game.  Elliot Fry did have a rare missed field goal which was surprising though.  The blocked punt was something the team planned for as they noticed in film the Florida punter kicked the ball a little low, and it played out perfectly as Carlton Heard broke through untouched.  Overall Grade A

So the grades were all over place, just like the game was which makes sense.  There were a lot of great moments, and overall for the first time all season this game was won by the solid defensive play and great special teams.  The players made plays when it really counted, and the Gamecocks never gave up, so when the opportunity came up to win the game, they were able to take advantage of the situation and come away with an exciting come from behind victory.