SU Record: 2-8
ATS Record: 3-6-1
|Sep-4||vs Eastern Illinois|
South Carolina Gamecocks Returning Stats Leaders
OVERALL RETURNING PRODUCTION FOR 2021/22
South Carolina Football Team News
New head coach Shane Beamer has enthusiasm and a strong coaching resume, including a stint as an assistant under Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, but he takes over a program that requires a rebuilding effort that could take more than a couple of seasons to complete. He assumes the reins from Will Muschamp, who was able to deliver two winning records and a bowl victory in five seasons, but whose team basically stopped responding to him and his staff in 2020.
Beamer has extensive coaching experience on both sides of the ball, and the teams he has been a part of, as well as the position players he’s mentored, have had success. He’s also known as a premier recruiter, which was one of his primary duties in his prior stint at Columbia
After giving up an average of 53 points in three losses to fall to a record of 2 -5 following a win over 14th ranked Auburn, South Carolina gave up on Will Muschamp with the team on its way to a 2 – 8 finish. It was the second eight-loss season in a row for the Gamecocks, and statistically, they were in the bottom 25% nationally in almost every offensive and defensive category in 2020.
Following Muschamp’s firing, things didn’t improve for South Carolina as they dropped their final three games, giving up a total of 86 points in losses to Georgia and Kentucky to close the 2020 campaign. The only bright spot came in the running game, which was sixth in the conference and 60th nationally, the best numbers on the team.
The most instrumental player in the ground game is back, with junior running back Kevin Harris returning after gaining 1138 yards with 15 touchdowns and averaging 6.2 yards a carry. Harris will be relied upon to shoulder a big load of the offensive production without a reliable quarterback option.
On a defense with very few shining areas, the defensive end Kinglsey Enagbare was one, recording six sacks and seven tackles for loss. The senior anchors a defense that returns seven starters who, with the exception of a couple of players, underperformed.
Nick Muse is the only veteran receiving target the Gamecocks have coming back for whoever ends up starting at quarterback. The tight end hauled in 30 passes for 425 yards and a touchdown but will likely improve those numbers without any other obvious options entering the season.
Transfer quarterback Jason Brown was a standout at FCS St. Francis (Pa.) and will provide competition for Luke Doty, who was South Carolina’s starter in the final two games of 2020. With Beamer at the helm, Brown could have an immediate impact.
Another transfer from St. Francis is lanky wide receiver E.J. Jenkins, who was the top pass catcher for Brown and will be able to step in and create opportunities for the offense. With Jenkins in the fold, Brown’s chances of starting increase if the two can impress Beamer in camp.
Jordan Strachan led Georgia State and the FBS in sacks in 2020, with the defensive end initially slated as a backup. He’s probably too good to keep off the field, and if he’s teamed with Enagbare, the Gamecocks may be able to improve enough on defense to give the offense time to develop.
Even though quarterback Collin Hill wasn’t a standout, completing less than 60% of his passes and throwing the same number of interceptions as touchdowns (6), he’ll still need to be replaced, as will the entire starting wide receiving corps.
One of those receivers is Shi Smith, who caught almost twice as many passes as the next most productive player and four touchdowns, the only pass catcher with more than one. Smith was the sixth-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers and is already showing promise at the NFL level.
The three teams at the bottom of the SEC East all will sport new head coaches, while the two at the top are once again expected to vie for the division crown. In last year’s SEC Championship Game, Florida won the division and lost to Alabama, but Georgia is considered the favorite for 2021.
Georgia has the edge in the schedule, playing Arkansas and Auburn from the SEC West, while the Gators have to take on Alabama and LSU. The winner of their matchup in Jacksonville, where the Bulldogs will be favored, should have the advantage by the end of the season.
Kentucky will be improved, as will Missouri, but neither one figures to be the team facing the SEC West champion in Atlanta. Tennessee, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt will all be in rebuilding mode but could figure to be spoilers late in the season.
South Carolina Offense
The offensive line is experienced enough with four returning starters to open up holes for Harris, who will be needed to buy Beamer time until the rest of the offense can catch up. If Brown doesn’t work out at quarterback, Doty is good enough to lead the way, especially if the Gamecocks come up with a suitable third option at receiver.
New offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield is looking to run a pro-style offense, and Harris will make that easier, but even with a seasoned offensive line, it will remain to be seen if he has the right talent to pull off the transformation from a spread technique.
South Carolina Defense
The real reclamation effort for South Carolina is on the defensive side of the ball, where the back end of the unit suffered losses, particularly at cornerback with the departure of the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft, Jaycee Horn. Although Horn was able to shut off half the field, the other half was wide open in 2020 as the Gamecocks were 97th in the nation in passing yardage.
With everyone back on the defensive front, they may be able to put enough pressure on the quarterbacks of the opposing teams to give the secondary time to develop. If not, it will up to Satterfield’s offense to put up a lot of points, something the Gamecocks had trouble doing in 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions
Steve Spurrier won 86 games from 2005 to 2015.