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2019.09.28.ryan.hilinski.3.jpg

South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski (3) celebrates the Gamecocks' win over Kentucky in Columbia, S.C. on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

COLUMBIA -- The football season is hitting the halfway point and it's time to hand out some midpoint grades.

GamecockCentral used grades from the first five games, averaging them together to get their season grade

* Quarterback: C -- This grade was brought down by Jake Bentley's performance-to-forget against UNC, and it's worth mentioning the quarterback grades for games with Ryan Hilinski as the starter averages out to a B-.

Hilinski's been solid in his first four starts, proving to be a pretty good game manager and has the ability to make some pro-level throws. He's had his highs, against Alabama, and lows against Missouri but is showing a lot of promise at the quarterback position.

* Running back: B- -- After struggling to run the ball last season, this is a real bright spot offensively through five games. Rico Dowdle is running like a man possessed with 370 total yards, on pace to lead the team with 888 yards. Tavien Feaster's not far off at 290 yards rushing.

* Wide receivers/tight ends: C+ -- Like the quarterback, the performance against North Carolina brings this one down a little. In the four games after it, the group's average grade is a B. Bryan Edwards is playing like a first-round pick, on pace to shatter a lot of school records by the end of his career.

* Shi Smith has done some good things as well, and they've gotten really good play from tight ends Kyle Markway and Nick Muse.

* Offensive line: C- -- This group has been hit or miss for the most part, piecing together a few solid performances and two bad ones against North Carolina and Missouri. They've been really good run blocking, paving the way for guys like Dowdle and Feaster, but struggle at times with pass protection.

* Defensive line: B -- Like the running back group, this is the bright spot of the Gamecock defense through five games. They're coming off a performance where they had four sacks and have almost every guy in the rotation playing at a high level.

Javon Kinlaw is another projected first round pick and he's leading the conference with four sacks. DJ Wonnum has come on strong recently and Kobe Smith is having a quietly good year.

* Linebackers: B- -- After a rough 2018 season, this group has been solid to start. Ernest Jones is leading the team with 38 tackles and seems to have an incredibly high upside as a sophomore.

T.J. Brunson's made strides in his coverage abilities and Sherrod Greene is playing the best football arguably of his career. They've lost contain at times this year with mobile quarterbacks, but they've been solid for the most part.

* Secondary: C -- This group spent the majority of the season going up and down in performance. It struggled early, especially against Alabama, but played well the last two weeks against Missouri and Kentucky.

They've figured out personnel and it seems to be working so far. Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu have shown flashes and J.T. Ibe has struggled at times. RJ Roderick has done some good and bad as well as a starter. Jammie Robinson has been a bright spot as well.

* Special teams: B -- This has been the most consistent group on the field. Joe Charlton is in the middle of a potentially record-breaking season and Will Tommie has been great as well. They've also gotten good outings from Edwards in punt return and Smith on kickoffs.

* Coaching: C- -- There's been some good and bad here with the bad magnified more than what's gone right. They struggled to stick to a good game plan against North Carolina and threw Hilinski 30 times when the freshman was battling a sore elbow. Will Muschamp also made some questionable calls vs. North Carolina in terms of punting from plus territory with the lead on fourth-and-short.

That being said, they have done some good with their offensive game plans against Alabama and Kentucky. In all, it's been a mixed bag this year for the coaches.

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Collyn Taylor reports for http://www.GamecockCentral.com, the http://www.Rivals.com affiliate devoted to USC athletics.

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