Grading the keys to victory: Arkansas

GamecockAnthem.com grades South Carolina's five keys to victory following Saturday's 48-36 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks.


I. Contain Darren McFadden and Felix Jones

The Gamecocks came no where close to stopping, containing, slowing, or even making the Arkansas rushing duo think twice, as the Arkansas rushing attack burst its way to a 541 yard day. Heisman contender Darren McFadden may have shot his name back to the top of the list with a 35 carry, 323 yard day that saw him average 9.2 yards a carry against the inept South Carolina run defense. Running-mate Felix Jones was just as tough for the Gamecocks to defend, as he added 174 yards on just 12 carries. The Gamecocks showed no signs of even being close to containing the dynamic duo for most of the day.

Perhaps as frustrating as the defense's overall performance was their showing with just over five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. South Carolina was finally within striking distance for the win and scored to cut the Arkansas lead to six points. Despite all that had happened on the day, all South Carolina needed was one stop to give their offense a chance at what would have been a truly memorable Gamecock win. It was not to be, though, as McFadden scampered for 80 yards on the first play from scrimmage and effectively ended the Gamecocks' chances.

Grade: F


II. Get Open Against the Press

A major concern for the USC offense was its wide receivers and their inability to beat press coverage for most of the season. Arkansas' secondary was also playing extremely well coming into the game. The Gamecock receivers answered by having one of their best overall performances of the season, led by true freshman Dion Lecorn. Lecorn had a breakout showing, reeling in eight catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. The receiving corps' usual leader Kenny McKinley also added seven balls for 72 yards. Jared Cook, Cory Boyd, Mike Davis, and Moe Brown all added key receptions as the Carolina offense put together 364 yards through the air and gave the Gamecocks a chance.

Grade: A


III. Play Physical All Around

The South Carolina defense was manhandled up front by the big Arkansas linemen, who gave McFadden and Jones large holes to explode through. It was exactly what the South Carolina defense could not afford to do against the talented Arkansas backfield. The USC defense missed Jasper Brinkley, Jordin and Dustin Lindsey, and Nathan Pepper more than any other game this season.

To give credit where it's due, the USC offensive line did what they had to do for most of the game. They have not been consistent on the year, but for the most part they gave the offense a chance against Arkansas.

Grade: D


IV. No Careless Penalties or Turnovers

The Carolina offense did not commit any turnovers, and it was a good thing they didn't because things could have gotten ugly fast if they did. The Gamecocks had four penalties for 30 yards, but turnovers and penalties were obviously not what cost them the game. A very odd Jared Cook penalty did stall one promising drive due to a questionable pass interference call. Penalties and turnovers were areas the Gamecocks needed to improve on, and they showed that improvement Saturday and gave their teammates a chance.

Grade: B+


V. Play Well in the Red Zone

The South Carolina defense simply could not stop the Razorbacks. Arkansas was two for three on their red zone opportunities, but that stat is skewed because Arkansas ran out the clock rather than scoring again at the end of the game. Arkansas didn't have many red zone chances, because most of their scores came on longer runs. The South Carolina offense played well in the red zone and scored on four of their five chances inside the Arkansas twenty.

Grade: C+


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