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 38-35 win over Tennessee


Connor Shaw had one of his best performances in his South Carolina career Saturday afternoon. He threw for a career-high 356 yards, outperforming his previous career-high of 311 yards in his first complete game against Kentucky last season. His three touchdowns tied for second-most in his career, just one shy of his career-high set in the Kentucky game last year. Shaw gained an additional 33 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown. He threw one interception, but that was an excusable interception on a fourth down play when he had to throw the ball to try and get the first down. His one downfall was taking two sacks, both in key situations in the game.

Final grade - A-

Running backs

Obviously the most talked about moment perhaps in the entire country was the injury to Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore was in the midst of his best game of the season, rushing for 65 yards and a score prior to the injury. The wind left the air in the stadium and really never returned. You have to credit Kenny Miles and Mike Davis for stepping up for Lattimore and doing enough to win the game. Miles ran for 34 yards on 10 carries and Mike Davis ran it five times for 20 yards. Not great numbers, but good enough. Spurrier did not comment much on the possibility of Brandon Wilds coming back, but he is apparently healthy enough to do so. For the most part, it will be Miles and Davis.

Final grade – B+

Wide receivers

Bruce Ellington had a career-high 101 yards receiving as the Gamecocks had two players with 100 yards for the first time since 2010 when Alshon Jeffery and Tori Gurley did that against Vanderbilt. Ace Sanders also had a career-high with 79 yards receiving, four more than his previous high against Vanderbilt last season. His five catches matched a career best. No other receiver caught a pass, but with the tight ends catching everything thrown their way it didn't matter. There were several drops and balls that were in a receiver's hands.

Final grade – A-

Tight ends

The tight ends had their best game of the season. Justice Cunningham had six catches for 108 yards, besting his career high of 46 yards in last year's game against Kentucky. Rory Anderson caught three passes for 58 yards and three scores. The tight ends proved to be a viable option Saturday and will need to continue to do so the rest of the season.

Final grade – A+

Offensive line

The offensive line did a decent job run blocking. There were several big holes for the running backs, but there were some where the blocking wasn't as good as it needs to be. They continue to improve in that area, but still have work to do. The pass blocking was much better. Most of the time Shaw had time to scan the field and find an open receiver, but there were also times where he had to scramble early. Shaw was sacked twice, but both could have been avoided. Still a lot of work to do.

Final grade – B+

Defensive line

Everyone knew it was not going to be easy for the defensive line to get to Tyler Bray. Tennessee has one of the best offensive lines in the conference when it comes to pass protection. Entering the game the Vols had given up just three sacks all season. Carolina only got to Bray once, but it was the play of the game as Jadeveon Clowney stripped Bray of the ball with a minute left to go in the game. Clowney finished with four tackles and Devin Taylor added one. Not the dominating effort they are accustomed to, but they held the Vols to under 100 yards rushing.

Final grade – A-


The linebackers were solid for the most part Saturday. Damario Jeffery had five tackles, Quin Smith and Shaq Wilson each had four, and DeVonte Holloman had two. Wilson also fell on the ball that Clowney stripped. Again, a solid effort, but nothing great.

Final grade – B


The Carolina secondary struggled to say the least. It seemed to make no difference whether they were in man or zone, Bray found someone open. A lot of the blame goes to the coaches because Bray and the Vol offense always seemed to be one step ahead. However, the secondary had opportunities to make plays and didn't. They bit on fakes, were out of position, and fell down all over the place. Victor Hampton did close out the game with an impressive interception, but giving up 381 yards through the air is not good when you consider the passing attacks of Arkansas and Clemson.

Final grade – C

Special teams

The special teams had to perform better this week. They couldn't have gotten much worse. The units were obviously challenged this week and they answered the bell by having one of their best performances of the year. They were obviously not going to kick the ball to Patterson, though they did once and hemmed him in to just a 13-yard return. They had no kick return longer than 18 yards and finished in negative yardage in punt returns. Tyler Hull averaged 43.2 yards per punt and had a beautiful 51-yard punt to pin Tennessee deep in their own territory with under a minute to play. Adam Yates also split the uprights with his only field goal attempt.

Ace Sanders only got one opportunity to return a punt and returned it 20 yards. Bruce Ellington had a great kickoff return late in the game out to the 40 yard line.

Final grade – A

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