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 44-11 loss to Florida.

Quarterbacks

A quarterback controversy is back at South Carolina for the first time since Stephen Garcia was dismissed following a loss to Auburn last season. Connor Shaw took over and he has had control of the job ever since. However, after the last two performances of the Carolina offense, Shaw may lose that job. Shaw went 9-of-20 for 72 yards and was sacked twice against the Gators in one half of action. It was his fumble on the first play of the game that started the slaughter. To be fair to Shaw, Dylan Thompson wasn't any better. Thompson was 8-of-20 for 83 yards and an interception. Thompson was also sacked twice. Both were equally bad Saturday.

Final grade – D-

Running backs


For the second week in a row the running game was nonexistent. Carolina was forced to throw the ball more than they wanted to after falling behind 21-3. The running backs only got 14 carries on the game for 48 yards, a respectable 3.4 yards per carry. Had the game been closer and Carolina was able to run the ball 25-30 times with Marcus Lattimore getting more than three carries, you wonder what could have been. Still, on a horrible offensive day the running backs were not that bad. They have to get more opportunities.

Final grade – B-

Wide receivers


There seems to be a disconnect somewhere between the receivers and quarterbacks. There were many times on replays in the last two weeks where receivers were getting open and the quarterback couldn't find them, and there seemed to be just as many times where the receivers ran lazy routes or didn't improvise and move toward the ball when the quarterback scrambled. They were more content to just stay where they were and watch. Five different receivers caught a pass Saturday, but the unit as a whole had just eight catches for 90 yards. Not very good numbers when considering there were 40 pass attempts.

Final grade – D

Tight ends


On a day like Saturday it is hard to get the tight ends involved. You can't run so you can't have them block, and you have to take chances downfield so they aren't real involved in the pass game. Still, Justice Cunningham, Rory Anderson and Jerell Adams were all able to catch pass, totaling four receptions for 45 yards. They ended up with the same yards per completion number, 11.2, as the receivers had.

Final grade – B

Offensive line


Shawn Elliott may disagree, but I continue to see some improvement on the offensive front. They are light years ahead of where they were at the beginning of the season, but they still have a lot of work to do. Some of those sacks, like the first one, are hard to blame on the line. Connor Shaw has to see that blitz coming and check off to a hot route. The pass protection has gotten better, but the run blocking has to improve. Like the rest of the offense, they have a lot of work to do.

Final grade – C-

Defensive line


The defensive line, particularly Jadeveon Clowney were challenged during the week after the performance at LSU where the Tigers ran up and down the field. They answered the bell. Carolina dominated the Florida offensive line, holding the league's second best rushing attack to just 89 yards. Mike Gillislee, the second best rusher in the league at over 100 yards, was limited to just 37 yards. The defensive line also got to Jeff Driskel twice.

Final grade – A

Linebackers


Other than DeVonte Holloman's missed tackle on the second Gator touchdown, the linebackers played well. The top three tacklers in Saturday's game were all linebackers; Reginald Bowens had 11, Holloman had eight with a sack and two tackles for loss, and Shaq Wilson had six tackles, 1.5 for loss.

Final grade – A-

Defensive backs


Lorenzo Ward was determined to stop the run and play the receivers man-to-man most of the day. The defensive backs performed for the most part. There was a miscommunication on one of Florida's touchdowns where Jordan Reed was left wide open, and Victor Hampton missed an easy pick six early in the contest, but other than that the defensive backs played well. Florida was limited to just 94 yards passing, much lower than their already lowest average in the SEC. Still, Driskel threw four touchdowns.

Final grade – C+

Special teams


Special teams were horrible against the Gators. Ace Sanders fumbled a punt and Damiere Byrd fumbled the next kickoff to allow Florida to score 14 points in a span of 58 seconds. Tyler Hull was decent punting, but was embarrassing compared to Florida's Kyle Christie. Andre Debose had a 19-yard punt return and 35-yard kickoff return, and Reed had a 35-yard kickoff return. Florida was set up in great field position all afternoon based on poor special teams play and Carolina was backed up all afternoon due to poor special teams play.

Final grade - F


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