South Carolina football grades vs. S.C. State: Why Gamecocks earned straight A's

by 24USATVSept. 30, 2022, 5 a.m. 19
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COLUMBIA — South Carolina football had its most dominant performance of the season against South Carolina State, beating the Bulldogs 50-10 on Thursday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The Gamecocks (3-2) scored at least 50 points in consecutive games for the first time since 1995, and the Bulldogs (1-3) were the first opponent they have held below 14 points this year.

Here's how we graded the performance:

It was a slightly sloppy start for the Gamecocks offense after Xavier Legette bobbled a pass on the first drive that resulted in an interception, and then there was a near fumble in the red zone on the third drive. Still, it didn't take long for South Carolina to find a rhythm, and Marshawn Lloyd scored the team's first first-quarter touchdown of the season.

THROWBACK THURSDAY:South Carolina football wears throwback helmets from 1968 for Thursday game vs. S.C. State

For the first time, the Gamecocks found balance between the run and pass. They rushed for 185 yards, led by 80 from Marshawn Lloyd. Spencer Rattler was 21-for-27 passing for 212 yards and three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing).

South Carolina's defense came up clutch more than once. After both Rattler interceptions, the defense recorded three-and-outs to stop the Bulldogs from capitalizing.

The secondary locked down S.C. State's passing game, giving up just three catches for 62 yards to star receiver Shaquan Davis and recording three interceptions. Linebacker Sherrod Greene logged his second career interception, and he shared a sack with lineman Tonka Hemingway.

The cherry on top was Hemingway's surprise offensive appearance to punch in a two-point conversion on the Gamecocks' first touchdown.

The special teams did its job again this week. Kai Kroeger hit his lone punt inside the 20 and Mitch Jeter was perfect on extra points.

There was a botched onside kick, though it ultimately had no impact on the game, and the Gamecocks made up for it with a blocked punt by Debo Williams in the third quarter that was recovered by Ahmarean Brown.

The Gamecocks' coaches weren't challenged to make many tough decisions in the blowout. There were some ups and downs in their play-calling — they were booed by the home crowd after punting on fourth-and-2 in the first quarter — but they made good decisions especially in the red zone, where the team went 6-for-7.

Outside of the turnovers, there's little to complain about in Thursday's performance. The Gamecocks were consistent between both halves, made big plays on offense and made up for mistakes on defense. It sets a positive tone heading into the game vs. SEC rival Kentucky next week.

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