Back Season Preview: South Carolina

Back To SEC

Season Preview: South Carolina

By Matt Smith
SouthernPigskin.com
Follow us at Twitter.com/SouthernPigskin.  Become a fan at the SouthernPigskin.com Facebook Page


2022 SEC Season Preview: South Carolina

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS

Head Coach: Shane Beamer – second season at South Carolina and overall (7-6 overall, 3-5 SEC)

Offensive Coordinator: Marcus Satterfield (second season)

Defensive Coordinator: Clayton White (second season)

2021 Recap: 7-6 (3-5 SEC); defeated North Carolina in Duke’s Mayo Bowl

The Gamecocks were a pretty fortunate team in Shane Beamer’s debut season, surviving close games against East Carolina and Vanderbilt to head into November with a chance at a bowl bid. South Carolina was blessed with drawing two collapsing teams at home in Florida and Auburn, and the Gamecocks knocked off both to get to a surprising six wins. Beamer had to use three different quarterbacks, and the roster as a whole was pretty lacking in what was inherited from the Will Muschamp era. The new staff created some buzz, and that’s the first step back for this program that just a decade ago won 11 games in three straight seasons.

2022 Schedule

Sept. 3 – GEORGIA STATE (7:30 p.m. ET)

Sept. 10 – at Arkansas (Noon ET, ESPN)

Sept. 17 – GEORGIA (Noon ET, ESPN)

Sept. 24 – CHARLOTTE

Oct. 1 – SOUTH CAROLINA STATE

Oct. 8 – at Kentucky

Oct. 22 – TEXAS A&M

Oct. 29 – MISSOURI

Nov. 5 – at Vanderbilt

Nov. 12 – at Florida

Nov. 19 – TENNESSEE

Nov. 26 – at Clemson

Under Center

12 months ago, it definitely seemed possible that Oklahoma star quarterback Spencer Rattler would play for Carolina in 2022. That would be the Carolina Panthers, of course. Instead, Rattler lost his job in Norman midway through the 2021 season, and after a tumultuous offseason, Rattler chose to transfer to South Carolina and take over a quarterback-starved program.

Rattler has a huge arm and nearly 20 games of starting experience. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong at Oklahoma, but Rattler often looked like he played in a bit of a rage. Perhaps a reigning in of his emotions could help elevate him back to the quarterback he was late in the 2020 season. It’s been a decade since the Gamecocks have had this level of talent at the position, and it falls on Beamer and offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield to ensure it doesn’t go to waste.

In The Trenches

South Carolina brings back its entire offensive line, but is that as good as it sounds? The Gamecocks allowed 31 sacks in 2021 and failed to rush for four yards per carry. The hope is that, with Rattler, opponents will have to respect the passing game more than they did a year ago when South Carolina was just trying to get by at quarterback. The Gamecocks hit the portal to bring in running back Christian Beal-Smith at running back after he ran for 600-plus yards at Wake Forest a year ago. Third-year sophomore Marshawn Lloyd was a prized recruit, but injuries have slowed his development. The reluctance to rely on Lloyd for a 200-carry season forced South Carolina to look elsewhere for help replacing Kevin Harris and ZaQuandre White.

The defensive front seven is in pretty good shape despite losing its best player in defensive end Kingsley Enagbare, a mid-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers. Zacch Pickens is a high-level tackle, and former star recruit Jordan Burch is overdue for a breakout season off the edge as a junior. Whether or not middle linebacker Sherrod Greene can return to form after a pair of injury-riddle season is a huge key for this group.

On The Edge

There was a gap in quality receiver play at South Carolina after Deebo Samuel and Brian Edwards left, but this group appears to be in much better shape than in the past few seasons. The Gamecocks will be led by veteran Josh Vann, Swiss-army knife Dakereon Joyner, and tight ends Jaheim Bell and Austin Stogner, the latter having come over from Oklahoma with Rattler. The South Carolina passing game should easily be the most improved in the SEC.

The secondary was a staple of this program during the Muschamp era, and some of Coach Boom’s recruiting has allowed Beamer and coordinator Clayton White to maintain a quality back end of the defense. Nickelback Cam Smith and safety R.J. Roderick are the top players, but there’s experience all around. Among SEC teams, only Georgia had more interceptions than the Gamecocks did in 2021.

Ranking The Units

1.   Defensive Backs

2.   Offensive Line

3.   Quarterbacks

4.   Running Backs

5.  Receivers

6.   Linebackers

7.   Defensive Line

Schedule Analysis

The Gamecocks have a tricky opener against Georgia State, which nearly beat Auburn last year, but that is a must-win with games against Arkansas and Georgia the following two weeks. The Razorbacks replace Auburn as the rotating opponent, which was a gift for the Gamecocks last year after catching the Tigers in their November swoon. Getting a key game for bowl hopes against Missouri at home is a good thing. Postseason aspirations may come down to a late pair of back-to-back games against Florida in Gainesville and Tennessee in Columbia. This program isn’t ready to finally beat Clemson again, especially with the game in Death Valley.

Season Prediction

Can the right buttons be pushed with Rattler that Lincoln Riley couldn’t find a year ago? If so, there’s a path to eight wins. If not, the schedule could leave this team home for the holidays.

South Carolina might be a better team with a worse record. Beamer appears to be the right man for this job, but progress isn’t always linear on the bottom line. I will call for a slide back to 5-7, but with a solid APR, South Carolina will snag the last available bowl spot and play a postseason game.

Record: 5-7 (2-6 SEC)

Bowl: Frisco Bowl vs. Appalachian State

Matt Smith - Matt is a 2007 graduate of Notre Dame and has spent most of his life pondering why most people in the Mid-Atlantic actually think there are more important things than college football. He has blogged for College Football News, covering both national news as well as Notre Dame and the service academies. He credits Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel for his love of college football and tailgating at Florida, Tennessee, and Auburn for his love of sundresses. Matt covers the ACC as well as the national scene.