South Carolina Football 2011: Grading the Offensive Positions Thus Far
South Carolina now has four games under its belt and is now 4-0. They have won games in a variety of ways—with offense, defense and special teams.
However, the offense has had its ups and downs. So, how are the positions doing so far? This seems like a good time to take a look at them, because the Gamecocks are about to enter the tough part of the schedule and begin fighting for the SEC East in earnest.
Star Player: Stephen Garcia
Current Stats: 648 yards, three touchdowns, seven interceptions
On Pace For: 1,944 yards, nine touchdowns, 21 interceptions
Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw have had shockingly slow starts to begin this season. Something doesn't look quite right with Garcia, and suddenly, the Gamecocks are missing the long-haired, scraggly quarterback with the swagger.
Clean-cut Garcia isn't cutting it.
I have been up and down on him, and actually, feel a bit guilty about my last piece involving waving the white flag on him.
I do have some faith he can pick it up...and will continue to root for him.
The reason that the quarterbacks don't warrant an F, is the fact that there are times when Garcia looks like the Garcia of old...and has had some tremendous runs.
Running Backs/Fullbacks: A-
Star Player: Marcus Lattimore
Current Stats: 611 yards, eight touchdowns
On Pace For: 1,833 yards, 24 touchdowns
Marcus Lattimore is one of the best players in football. He does everything well. He runs inside, outside, catches passes and blocks. He is an A+ player.
However, the rest of the squad drops the overall grade to an A-.
Someone has to step up to take some of the load off Lattimore, or he won't make it through the season. Injuries have been an issue, with Shon Carson going down early and Kenny Miles missing time.
Brandon Wilds showed some promise in the Vanderbilt game.
Wide Receivers: C-
Star Player: Alshon Jeffery
Current Stats: 14 receptions for 246 yards, one touchdown
On Pace For: 42 receptions for 738 yards, three touchdowns
I almost placed this grade as an incomplete, because the quarterback play has been too erratic to truly grade the wide receivers. However, the wide receivers have made some solid plays for the team. Alshon Jeffery has had a slow start, obviously, but that has more to do with the fact that he is triple-covered half of the time, than his actual effort and skill.
Damiere Byrd comes back this week, which should boost the unit.
Ace Sanders and Nick Jones have played well.
Jason Barnes has bounced back from an atrocious start to make some plays for the team. Until the quarterback play improves, it will be difficult to see this unit as anything more than average.
Tight Ends: B
Star Player: Justice Cunningham
Current Stats: five catches for 48 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 sacks allowed
On Pace For: 15 catches for 144 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 sacks allowed
Possibly the most pleasant surprise of the season, the tight ends have been playing extremely well. It's obviously more than their pass catching, because they are not utilized in that way. Cunningham has made some big plays though.
The tight ends have been blocking very well. Justice Cunningham may be one of the best blockers on the team.
Offensive Line: B-
Sacks Allowed: four
The offensive line has been playing very well this season. They have only allowed four sacks and paved the way for a Heisman candidate runner. However, after the Vanderbilt game, Coach Spurrier has hinted that he would like to change up the starting lineup.
The one thing that has kept this group from being an A+ group is the penalties. They hold too often.
The passing game must improve, obviously. I also want to comment on the play-calling.
Why does it seem like every pass play is a downfield shot? Is it possible that Garcia needs to warm his way into those? I would love to see the team utilize the short to mid passing game a bit more.
The team has played well at certain times and very poorly at others.
It must improve to continue to compete at a high level.
However, with the Gamecocks defense and Marcus Lattimore, they can still win every game.