Final grades

South Carolina gets graded in the classroom and on the football field. The feature returns for its second season as we take a look at each aspect of the game. Today we look at the results of the 31-10 win over Missouri. Who made the grade and who didn't?

Quarterbacks

I think it is safe to assume that Connor Shaw was back to 100% in Saturday's game against Missouri. Though he said he felt good last week and was 100%, the evidence says otherwise. Shaw's passes weren't crisp or on target. It could have been rust, but he just didn't even look comfortable in the pocket. Against Missouri he completed some short passes to Marcus Lattimore to build some confidence and never looked back. 20-for-21 is all that needs to be said.

Final grade – A+

Running backs


Marcus Lattimore looked like the Lattimore of old. As the defense tired in the second half, Lattimore appeared to only get stronger. He ended up with 85 yards on 21 carries. He scored the first two touchdowns in less than a minute. He may have made a bigger impact in the passing game, getting Shaw going with short passes in the holes of the Missouri zone and turning it upfield and gaining yards after the catch. Lattimore ended up leading the team in receptions and yards with 60 yards on seven receptions.

Final grade – A

Wide receivers


The receivers did not have a great game statistically but had some nice catches. Nick Jones had a great 36-yard reception to set up Lattimore's second touchdown and Ace Sanders had a great catch for a 23-yard touchdown at the end of the first half. In all, the receivers had six catches for 102 yards and one touchdown. Not a great day, but very solid with two big plays

Final grade – A -

Tight ends


Rory Anderson caught the 14th pass of his career and scored his sixth touchdown in those 14 catches. Not a bad ratio of touchdowns per reception. Justice Cunningham had four catches in a five plays late in the first quarter to finish second behind Lattimore both receptions and yards with four catches for 41 yards. There were quite a bit of two tight end sets on running plays to provide additional blocking and did well for the most part. A very solid game overall

Final grade – A

Offensive line


The offensive line turned in their best performance of the year thus far. They still aren't to the level they are capable of, but they are on the right path. At least for one day Corey Robinson appears to be able to finally help out the team and was very solid other than one false start. Mike Matulis was flagged for a very questionable clipping penalty on Shaw's 80-yard touchdown run, but other than that there were not any huge mistakes. Lattimore is still finding it tough to find holes, but he was not hit in the backfield as often as he has been the last three weeks.

Final grade – B+

Defensive line


The defensive line was very strong all day. Kendi Lawrence and Rus Hansbrough were each able to break off a big run, but other than that were limited. James Franklin was never able to break anything and was sacked three times. All of this was done on just one blitz. The Carolina defensive line was able to pressure Franklin by sending three or four guys the entire game. The line recorded all three sacks and all the tackles in the backfield. That's pretty strong against a Missouri team that usually finds success on the ground.

Final grade – A

Linebackers


The four leading tacklers in Saturday's game were all linebackers. Quin Smith had a huge game with 10 tackles, Shaq Wilson and DeVonte Holloman each had seven tackles, and Reginald Bowens had six. Bowens also forced a fumble that was recovered by Devin Tayor. The linebackers were able to step up in the holes, shed their blockers and make the tackle all day.

Final grade – A

Secondary


The secondary was fairly strong for the most part. There were a few missed tackles and a few times a receiver was left open, but there were no blown assignments or big plays. They limited the Missouri passing attack to under 150 yards and did not give up a touchdown until the end of the game when most of the younger guys were on the field. A very good performance without D.J. Swearinger in the secondary.

Final grade – A-

Special teams


Other than one kick that went out of bounds off the foot of Adam Yates, the Carolina special teams was great in all aspects. Three of the other five Yates kickoffs were touchbacks, and the two that were returned were both held inside the 25 by the coverage.

Tyler Hull punted three times, had one touchback and landed one inside the 20. He averaged 41.3 yards per punt with a long of 55. Missouri did not return a punt.

The return game was where the Gamecocks were most successful. Ace Sanders had a 49-yard return that set up Carolina's first touchdown and would also return one 27 yards. In total Sanders had six returns for 106 yards, an average of nearly 18 yards per return.

Carolina entered the game as the only team in the nation that had not returned a kick. Bruce Ellington finally got a chance to return one, returning it 50 yards to midfield. That allowed Carolina to be aggressive at the end of the first half and score to go up 21-3 at the break.

Final grade – A+


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