Making the Grade: Carolina vs Florida

It hasn’t been all roses for the Gamecocks this year, but yesterday, the Gamecock defense stepped it up in a big way.

Holding Florida to a season low 278 yards was tricky, especially with young mobile quarterback Treon Harris rushing for 111 yards. But, the Gamecocks found a way. Revitalized by the return of sophomore linebacker Skai Moore, the Gamecock defense helped lead the team to a 20-23 OT victory on the road. With only 2 games left in the season (pending a bowl game), let’s take a look at how the Gamecocks played on each side of the ball.

Offense: (B-) Dylan Thompson started off the game red hot. The senior went 10-12 initially, before throwing a few misses. He finished strong with 206 passing yards, and his sole TD (and game winning one) came on a short scamper that was expertly called. Running back Mike Davis also carried the ball 15 times for a TD, but was more instrumental in changing the momentum of the game with his hard-nosed running style. Overall, the offensive line played well against a stout Florida defense that has only given up 30 total points in the two outings before yesterday.

Defense: (B+) The defense played its second best game of the year yesterday and they needed it. Although the Gators have struggled offensively all year, it seemed like the defensive unit had something to prove. The got some pressure, stood the Florida line up, and even tallied a huge turnover that kept the team in the game. When it mattered, the Cocks were able to make huge stops that killed Florida momentum and changed the tide of the game.

Special Teams: (A++) Just wow. Special teams has never particularly been a strong point for the Gamecocks. Spurrier and the coach before him, Lou Holtz, have both previously noted that this team can’t quite seem to put a special teams effort forth consistently. Although the game yesterday doesn’t count as “consistent” in any way, the effort by the special teams is what really saved the game. Both Brison Williams and junior receiver Carlton Heard are credited with blocks, a field goal and punt, that kept Florida from scored and the Gamecocks in scoring position.

Overall: (B) The Gamecocks finally looked like a team that can compete in the SEC East. Although at the moment the West is the dominant division, there is as much parity in the East as the West. Florida was poised to make a run at the Eastern division title until stumbling yesterday, almost ensuring Georgia the crown. After a disappointing season thus far, the win today, and the hard play by the team as a whole, has breathed new life into the Gamecock faithful, who might start to see a little light at the end of the tunnel.

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