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 38-17 comeback win over Kentucky. Who made the grade and who didn't?

Quarterbacks

Connor Shaw wasn't spectacular, but he was very solid. At times it seemed like he was too quick to pull the ball down and scramble instead of staying in the pocket to try and complete a pass. Still, when the Carolina offense needed a big play it was Shaw that answered the call. Trailing 17-7 Shaw found Damiere Byrd in the end zone for a touchdown that got the offense going. Shaw threw just three incomplete passes and two of the passes were drops by Bruce Ellington and D.L. Moore. For the game, Shaw completed 15-of-18 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Great completion percentage, but not spectacular numbers. He added an additional 76 yards rushing.

Final grade – B+

Running backs


Where was Marcus Lattimore in the first half? Lattimore had just five carries for 12 yards in the first half against one of the worst rush defenses in the country. The coaching staff finally decided to make an extra effort in the second half to get Lattimore involved. It paid off as Lattimore had his best half of the season to help aid the comeback. He finished the game with 120 yards on 23 carries and a pair of touchdowns, and also added 16 yards receiving on three catches.

Final grade – A

Wide receivers


Shaw and the receivers just couldn't get on the same page on deep passes. Shaw did complete the touchdown pass to Byrd for the longest play of the game, but either the receivers weren't getting open or Shaw wasn't finding them. They did connect on a fair amount of short passes, but they have to start connecting on some deep balls to open up the running game more.

Final grade – B-

Tight ends


Rory Anderson had an impressive 37-yard reception that helped lead to the first Carolina touchdown and Justice Cunningham had two receptions for 10 yards, but that was all the offensive production from the position. While their main priority is to block for Lattimore, they are big and physical and have to be able to get open more.

Final grade – C

Offensive line


For a half it was the same problem that has plagued this line all year with their inability to open up holes for the running game and protect Shaw. When Carolina went to the I-formation in the second half to get the ball in Lattimore's hands, they seemed to be able to open up some more holes. Look for a lot of the I-formation next week.

Final grade – B-

Defensive line


For a half the defensive line did not look like the dominating defensive line we've seen the first four weeks. Kentucky nearly went the entire length of the field before settling for a field goal. Once they got used to Jalen Whitlow and made some adjustments at the half, they were the same dominant front that fans have grown accustomed too. They did give up 120 rushing yards, far too many than they've been giving up, but did record four sacks.

Final grade – B

Linebackers


Much like the defensive line the linebackers struggled early. DeVonte Holloman had a great game that included a sack and interception, and Reginald Bowens added a sack of his own. Despite Shaq Wilson not recording a single tackle, the linebackers still recorded 14 as a unit.

Final grade – B

Secondary


The secondary had a fairly average day. They did not give up a lot of yardage (123), but many times were in no position to make a play. Receivers were constantly given 5+ yards of cushion, something that could turn into big plays against teams with better receivers. They were never able to make a big play but did not give up a touchdown reception.

Final grade – B

Special teams


After having a spectacular performance last week that earned special teams coach Joe Robinson a game ball, the special teams took a giant step back Saturday. Bruce Ellington only got one opportunity to return a kick, gaining a modest 25 yards, but nothing great. Ace Sanders got absolutely nothing on punt returns, returning three punts for minus three yards. DeMarcus Sweat had a 33-yard return, but was held fairly well. Adam Yates had just three touchbacks in seven kickoffs.

The biggest play of the game was when Kentucky blocked a punt in the second quarter. Tyler Hull took way too long to kick the ball, allowing Daron Blaylock to come soaring in and get a hand on the kick.

Overall it was just a bad showing for Carolina special teams.

Final grade - D-


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