South Carolina Football: Midseason Grades for Players and Coaches

Lee Schechter@@leeschechterContributor IIIOctober 14, 2013

South Carolina Football: Midseason Grades for Players and Coaches

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    Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

    South Carolina is at the midpoint of its season, which means it is time for midseason grades of the Gamecocks positional units. 

    The loss to Georgia is in the back of the Gamecocks' minds as Georgia just lost to Missouri, leaving the window open for South Carolina to take the SEC East. 

    Some units have amazed, while others continue to struggle and will need to improve down the backstretch of the season if South Carolina wishes to contend in the SEC. 

    Here are the midseason grades for South Carolina's players and coaches. 


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    Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

    Head coach Steve Spurrier is doing an excellent job with the offense. 

    With Spurrier's specialty being on the offensive side of the ball, he has his team working as a finely oiled machine. 

    South Carolina ranks at No. 19 with 225.7 rushing yards per game and 44th in passing with 260.8 yards per game. 

    The offense is producing almost at will. Though the other side of the ball is where struggles exist. 

    Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward is doing the best with what he has. The defense came to play against Arkansas by only allowing seven points. 

    The offensive success weighs the grade a bit higher, and the big win over Arkansas helps the midseason defensive coaching grade. 

    Grade: B+


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    Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

    South Carolina is a lucky team. The Gamecocks have two above-average quarterbacks. 

    Connor Shaw is efficient no matter how you look at him. He has 10 touchdowns to zero interceptions. He knows how to hit his receivers and make plays with his feet. Though, Shaw is still injury prone.

    So, enter Dylan Thompson. 

    Thompson has not been perfect, but he is delivering for his Gamecocks. 

    With two touchdowns and two picks along with a 56 percent completion rate, Thompson could improve, but he is still getting the job done. 

    Shaw is sitting steady with a 172.8 QB rating, and Thompson is at 131.1. Not too bad for a pair of quarterbacks. 

    Grade: A- 

Running Backs

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The running back position is currently defined by one player. Mike Davis. 

    Davis has been simply amazing in all aspects of the game. 

    With 742 yards rushing, nine touchdowns and a yards per carry of 6.7, Davis continues to impress and dominate opposing defenses with his balanced rushing attack. 

    He's been even better than many expected and controls the position. 

    Fellow teammate Brandon Wilds, the No. 2 running back, has been banged up with an injury, so the depth is difficult to judge. 

    Though, Davis' play carries the weight of the grade as he is also the team's offensive force. 

    Grade: A

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

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    No one is a pure standout in the receiving corps or at the tight end position. 

    But that doesn't mean South Carolina deserves a low grade for these players. 

    The tight ends have been battling with injuries, so it's difficult to judge them. Yet, there is too much talent among that group, and South Carolina is not utilizing the units big-play abilities. 

    The wide receivers are sharing responsibilities. Bruce Ellington leads the team in receptions with 21 catches, while Nick Jones and Damiere Byrd are not far behind.

    Even with Shaq Roland missing some games, others have stepped up when needed.

    As a team, South Carolina is averaging 13.7 yards per catch, which is a worthy statistic.

    The wide receivers have been sufficient. The tight ends are lagging behind. But there is time to improve before the end of the season.  

    Grade: B

Offensive Line

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    Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

    South Carolina has an outstanding offensive line. 

    Look at how well the running game is going. Give the big guys some credit for providing Mike Davis with some great opportunities to bust big runs. 

    Whether it is run blocking or pass protection, the offensive line is an impressive bunch. 

    They get the job done, and they get that job done well. 

    This is one of the better offensive lines, and remember that this is still a young unit. 

    So far this season, the Gamecocks should be very proud of the offensive line. 

    Grade: A

Defensive Line

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    Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

    Despite superstar Jadeveon Clowney's defensive "struggles," the South Carolina defensive line is still generating sacks and holding its ground as a solid unit. 

    Kelcy Quarles, Chaz Sutton and Clowney have a combined 8.0 sacks, which is not a whole lot, but a respectable number. 

    Clowney still needs to get more involved, though teams are avoiding him altogether by running play after play away from the defensive freak. Yet, Clowney is hurrying quarterbacks and garnering a lot of attention which definitely helps no matter how you look at it. 

    There is work to be done up front on the defense, but the Gamecocks defensive line is solid nonetheless.

    Grade: B+


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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Uh-oh. The linebackers...

    This is the one positional unit on the Gamecocks that is truly struggling. And it all starts with the basics. 

    Fundamentals. Fundamentals. Fundamentals. 

    The linebackers have had their difficulties with tackling and positioning throughout much of the first half of the season. 

    When the defense has a tough time, it starts with the linebackers because opposing offenses know that this is the unit to attack. 

    The whole defense played well against Arkansas and part of that had to do with an improved performance by the linebackers. However, this unit is still not where it needs to be. 

    Grade: C- 

Defensive Backs

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The defensive backs have had their ups and downs in 2013. 

    Some weeks they get torched, while other weeks they hold their own and force turnovers. 

    It's tough to gauge where the secondary stands as of right now, but the play from Jimmy Legree and the safeties boost the secondary's grade. 

    Legree is showing a knack for finding the football, and T.J. Gurley and Skai Moore have a nose for the football as they both get involved with a lot of tackling. 

    Victor Hampton is questionable. His attitude is iffy. He's missed some time on the field, but he is still a strong cover-corner. The Gamecocks need some better play out of him to boost the grade. 

    Grade: B

Special Teams

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    Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

    Special teams has been a pleasant surprise for the Gamecocks in 2013. 

    Elliott Fry is perfect on his field goals with six makes on six attempts, including a long of 41 yards. 

    Tyler Hull has been a solid punter this season. Punters are undervalued, and Hull is holding to the norm. 

    The return game has not been stellar, more like average at best. But the mistakes are minimal, and the potential is there. 

    The Gamecocks deserve a somewhat average grade on special teams. 

    Grade: B+