Handing out grades after South Carolina’s 31-point win over Furman on Saturday:


Outside of two turnovers and so-so pass protection, South Carolina’s offense did everything it wanted to against a defense that couldn’t match up athletically. The Gamecocks rushed for 267 total yards and nearly had three 100-yard rushers to highlight a 548-yard explosion. Dylan Thompson avoided throws into coverage and connected on multiple throws down the field including a nifty 45-yard touchdown to Jerell Adams after scrambling out of the pocket to avoid a sack. Nine different players caught passes for the Gamecocks. With his third consecutive 100-yard game, it appears Mike Davis is in midseason form and on his way to another 1,000-yard season.


Sans Hank McCloud’s 60-yard touchdown gallop down the Furman sideline in the first quarter, South Carolina avoided big plays and blown coverage. The Paladins had two drives inside South Carolina’s red zone in the first half and came away with no points. That was a good sign for a struggling defense, the SEC’s worst statistically. Coming off their first bye of the season, the Gamecocks managed three takeaways, more than half of their SEC-low margin coming in. Pressure up front from defensive linemen continues to be a problem and the loss of J.T. Surratt to a hamstring strain could further cripple this unit.


Not much happened in the return game, but coverage was excellent and Elliott Fry continued his All-SEC caliber season with a pair of short field goals and five extra points.


Motivating players and trying to inject enthusiasm into his team about playing Furman was going to be a challenge regardless of South Carolina’s two-game losing streak coming in, but Steve Spurrier’s outing was commendable. His willingness to stick to a run-first game plan (43 out of 71 offensive snaps) showed he knows what works. The Gamecocks escaped two turnovers and forced three takeaways of their own, pulling away from their FCS in-state foe. Spurrier’s record against non-Power 5 competition improved to 51-0 all-time with the victory.


Considering the mood surrounding the program after a disappointing loss at Kentucky two weeks ago, Saturday’s win provided a much-needed temporary smile on an otherwise frown of a season. Sloppy play remained, but the Gamecocks had little trouble disposing of a team they were favored to pummel by nearly six touchdowns. For the first time, some of South Carolina’s second-teamers on offense (who will start next season), got reps against a live defense. Quarterbacks Perry Orth and Connor Mitch weren’t sharp, but tailback David Williams was really impressive with 110 yards on 11 carries.