How do you follow up a lopsided defeat to the No. 1 team in the nation? You schedule a team from Conference USA as the next opponent. That’s exactly what the Gamecocks did in their scheduling of the Charlotte 49ers immediately following their contest with Georgia.
By Matt Zemek
It’s a breather prior to their matchup later in the season against Kentucky, which has been one of the SEC’s tougher opponents since Mark Stoops took over. This is smart scheduling; after the physical toll of the Georgia game, the Gamecocks need to go back to the drawing board against a manageable opponent and learn some lessons they can apply to Kentucky. Here are three keys to Shane Beamer getting his team back on track, hopefully with a fresh understanding of how his team must play together.
1 Do not just assume a win
Given how many double-digit underdogs are winning games outright this season, and given the results we have seen from smaller schools which have beaten Power Five FBS counterparts in college football, you’d think that teams would avoid the trap of assuming a win whenever they put these games on the schedule. Large favorites still get ambushed, and they still seem to play with the casual assumption that they can roll the ball out on the field and easily win. Coaches and their teams have had to learn the hard way that every game demands full attention and focus. This pre-Kentucky stretch for South Carolina has the potential to end up being a minefield if it doesn’t take the opposition seriously.
2 Spencer Rattler needs to insist on excellence, and nothing less
Spencer Rattler’s grace period is over. Through three games, Rattler has the 108th-best QBR among FBS quarterbacks. That number is sitting at a paltry 32.6 and he has thrown five interceptions and only two touchdowns. That’s on top of an unproductive 721 total passing yards. For a guy who came into college football in 2020 (and then returned for the start of the 2021 season at Oklahoma) as one of the most hyped quarterbacks in the nation, he has not been able to put the pieces together and figure out a way to play at his best. We can say that in 2020 and 2021, pandemic limitations on practice time might have hampered his development, but in the 2022 offseason, those same constraints did not exist. This is a prove-it season for Rattler. He has to start proving what he is capable of.
3 If you’re Shane Beamer, be ready to act quickly
If there’s anything that Shane Beamer should be prepared for, it’s to send Rattler a message and not let him struggle any longer. If Rattler starts this game well, by all means keep him in, but if the Gamecocks have a bad first quarter, Beamer needs to give more snaps to Luke Doty. If Doty shows Beamer that he’s the better player, Beamer can’t hesitate to pull that trigger, showing Rattler he is unafraid to bench him. Beamer is giving Rattler a chance to do something, but the extent of that chance – how long it lasts – can’t be limitless. A change could wake up Rattler. It could also get the attention of the rest of the offense. Beamer has to be willing to shake things up if the Gamecocks start this game slowly. The team needs a spark, and that could come from the coach making an unexpected decision.