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South Carolina vs. Auburn: Game Grades, Analysis for the Gamecocks and Tigers

Brian Jones@Brian_L_JonesContributor IOctober 26, 2014

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 25:  Nick Marshall #14 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates a touchdown during the third quarter of a game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Jordan Hare Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The South Carolina Gamecocks and the Auburn Tigers did battle at the Plains, and it was Auburn that prevailed 42-35. The final box score can be found here, thanks to NCAA.com.

Both teams made plays on offense. Auburn did its damage through the ground, while South Carolina aired it out.

But the reason Auburn was able to come away with the win was the fact that South Carolina made one too many mistakes on offense, and the Tigers were able to take advantage of it.

Both teams showed they wanted to win, but the Tigers were just the better team on Saturday night.

Here are game grades and analysis for the Gamecocks and the Tigers.

South Carolina Gamecocks Game Grades
Positional UnitFirst Half GradeFinal Grade
Passing OffenseAB+
Running OffenseC+C+
Passing DefenseDD
Running DefenseFF
Special TeamsCC
CoachingAA
Bleacher Report

PASSING OFFENSE

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Dylan Thompson had one of his best nights as a Gamecock against Auburn. The senior quarterback threw for 402 yards and five touchdowns. However, he did throw two interceptions that proved to be costly for the Gamecocks, and it was the reason Auburn was able to win.

But Thompson showed toughness in the pocket, was able to hit his receivers downfield and the offensive line gave him more than enough time to throw.

RUNNING OFFENSE

The Gamecocks were OK at running the ball, but they could have been better. Mike Davis did have 88 rushing yards on 21 carries, and Brandon Wilds had 26 yards on seven carries. Because of the Auburn offense scoring on every series but two, the Gamecocks could not run the ball as much as they would have liked. But even if they did run it more, they were only gaining around 3.6 yards per carry.

PASSING DEFENSE

Despite Nick Marshall only throwing for 139 yards, he only missed on two pass attempts, and he was never pressured. South Carolina's defense has struggled all season long, and it had no answer for Auburn’s passing attack. The Tigers don’t throw the ball a lot to being with, but guys such as Gerald Dixon and Gerald Dixon Jr. needed to do a better job putting pressure on Marshall just to disrupt the timing.

RUNNING OFFENSE

It would not have mattered if the Gamecocks would have stopped the pass because they were run over by the Tigers anyway. The Gamecocks surrendered 395 yards, and it could have been more if the game went into overtime.

The offensive line and Auburn receivers pushed the South Carolina defensive front seven all game long. Not one player for the Gamecocks stepped up and decided to take a stand, and that’s got to be tough for the coaching staff because it’s not going to get easier.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The special teams actually had one of the plays of the season as the kickoff team recovered an onside kick. But nothing came of it, and it was a no-show for the special teams all game long other than that play. The one good thing, though, was that punter Tyler Hull only punted once in the entire game. That showed the offense was either scoring touchdowns or turning the ball over, which was a little of both.

COACHING

This was one of the better coaching jobs Steve Spurrier has done in a long time. He was aggressive, made all the right calls and made all the right decisions. The fact that he went for it on fourth down six times and converted on five of them shows how much confidence he has in his players. Unfortunately, he does not have the talent around him this season to be on top of the SEC East.

Auburn Tigers Game Grades
Positional UnitFirst Half GradeFinal Grade
Passing OffenseA-A
Running OffenseA+A+
Passing DefenseDC-
Running DefenseCC
Special TeamsBB-
CoachingA-A
Bleacher Report

PASSING OFFENSE

Auburn does not throw the ball all that often. But when the Tigers do, they are pretty accurate. Marshall completed 10 of his 12 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown. Running is his strong point, but he has shown he can stand in the pocket and deliver a great strike when needed. Just don’t expect him to throw it 25 times a game because this team loves to run the ball.

RUNNING OFFENSE

And the Tigers proved how they love to run the ball as they rushed for nearly 400 yards.

Artis-Payne, Marshall and Ricardo Louis each rushed for over 100 yards in the win against South Carolina. The offensive line gave them great holes to run through, but South Carolina had trouble defending the option read the Tigers were running because they became undisciplined quickly. It was just another day for Gus Malzahn’s offense.

PASSING DEFENSE

It was a tough day for the Auburn secondary because it could not handle Shaq Roland, Pharoh Cooper or Mike Davis. One of the things South Carolina did was play a lot of one-on-one coverage, and Auburn was losing the battle.

The Tigers made adjustments in the second half, but the Gamecocks also made adjustments, which is what the Tigers gave up 400 yards in the air. But the Tigers did get two interceptions, and they proved to be the difference in the game.

RUNNING DEFENSE

The Tigers did a solid job not letting Mike Davis or Brandon Wilds run over them. A lot of it had to do with Cassanova McKinzy manning the middle with six tackles. Montravius Adams was no slouch either as he notched three tackles in the win. The Tigers did not have their best defensive game, but the one thing they did do was not let the run game beat them, which is always a goal for any defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS

It was a pretty good night for the special teams. The coverage teams were on point, Daniel Carlson only had to punt twice and Quan Bray had a punt return of 28 yards.

However, Bray did fumble the return, which South Carolina recovered and led to points. Bray is as talented as a return man there is in the conference, but he can’t afford to have mistakes like that again. Because if it happens again, the coaches will replace him.

COACHING

Malzahn had a great game plan for his offense. And it was simple because the Tigers just ran the ball on South Carolina, mixing it in with a few pass plays, and they scored on every series, except for the first and the final.

I think the one thing the coaches need to work on is a better game plan defensively. Having Auburn play man coverage killed the team all game long, which is why South Carolina had over 500 yards of total offense. They can’t do that with teams such as Ole Miss, Alabama and Georgia, three teams the Tigers still have to face this season.

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