Our blogging buddies at Leftover Hot Dog (seriously, it's a USC fan site) pull no punches in assigning season grades for Carolina's offense and defense, while explaining why.
Overall Grade for the 2010 Offense
I feel the offense was a solid 'B' in 2010 due to the balanced attack in the run game and passing attack.
The reason for what many think is a low grade is the fact that it seemed when the run game was not clicking then the offense was not clicking as a whole. In saying that, the opposite is true as when the run game is going so is the overall offense. The key to the offense as a whole is Marcus Lattimore as he brings so much to the offense. He has the ability to gain those much needed yards and when you get him within 10 yards of the goal line, he is a beast.
The other two main weapons Coach Spurrier has at his disposal, both improved over last year, are Stephen Garcia (QB) and Alshon Jeffery (WR). Garcia has done really well in maturing as a quaterback and having the needed ability to manage the offense. When Marcus gets stuffed, Alshon is the go-to guy in the air. These three, and the entire offense, is only as good as the offensive line which has had their ups and downs. At times, they are what held the offense back due to lack of protection and inability to create holes for the run game. Just look at the losses that USC suffered and you will see that the offensive line play was the root. Again, a solid 'B'.
Overall Grade for the 2010 Defense
I would grade the Gamecocks Defense in 2010 as a "B-". The reason is not because of the defensive line as they did some really good things with pressure and sacks. The reason lies in the suspect production from the Linebackers and Secondary. They had good moments, and as a unit, played good but when they were off....they sucked. No better way to describe it. If you need evidence, then look at the Auburn game and how poor coverage and poor tackling past the line was horrible. There was good individual performances all season but with such high expectations in 2010...the question us Gamecock fans struggle with was the bar set too high? At times (see UGa, UF) the defense was stout but also in some games (see UK, Auburn) it seemed the defense forgot how to play.