South Carolina Three Keys: Vanderbilt


Last week against Missouri, South Carolina fed the rock to MarShawn Lloyd, but the Gamecocks didn’t have another plan when Mizzou’s defense had an answer for him. South Carolina struggled to move the ball all day.

By Matt Zemek

Head coach Shane Beamer reverted to the old game plan of asking quarterback Spencer Rattler to throw the ball more than he would have liked, and more than Rattler can handle. It has to be said that the big gamble on Spencer Rattler has not panned out the way South Carolina hoped it would. The Gamecocks are going deeper and deeper into their season and are not finding solutions in the passing game. Their defense has been very good – good enough to beat Missouri – but the offense isn’t carrying its share of the workload. As South Carolina prepares for Vanderbilt, all eyes are on the Gamecocks’ offense, which can’t get stuck the way it has all too often this season.

Either change QBs or accept what you have

It’s not yet apparent if it’s a coaching issue or a talent issue, but Shane Beamer has to confront the unpleasant idea that Spencer Rattler will not be in 2022 what he and Gamecock fans had hoped for. Every time Rattler has been asked to be the focal point of the Gamecock offense and asked to throw a high volume of passes, he struggles. It’s not a once-in-a-while thing, it’s a relatively consistent pattern. It’s true that when South Carolina fell behind Missouri by double digits, the Gamecocks had to throw more, so it’s not as though the staff went into the game with a Rattler-heavy plan. However, not being able to throw the ball in catch-up mode (after leading games against Kentucky and Texas A&M and not needing to play from behind) offers a final confirmation that a pass-centric approach just isn’t going to work. Maybe this doesn’t mean Beamer should think about a full-time replacement, but maybe this means that if South Carolina falls behind, a switch can be made so that the Gamecocks can get more out of their passing game if the situation requires them to throw.

Different plays, different concepts

There has to be a spark of creativity on offense, to the extent that the Gamecocks try some new plays which contain different principles and nuances. Of course, every team has a playbook that players memorize, but that doesn’t mean the playbook can’t be amended or added to. Freshening the offensive approach with new concepts could elicit new dimensions of production and performance. The staff has to keep trying to figure out ways to unlock the talent in this offensive unit.

Throw the ball to Jaheim Bell

Whatever else you can say about the Gamecocks’ offense, Bell isn’t part of the problem. One of the few NFL prospects on this South Carolina team, Bell played a grand total of nine snaps last week against Mizzou. What is notable about this is that the Gamecocks needed to throw but didn’t have one of their biggest (literally) and most talented receiving options on the field for Rattler. If the focus on Bell seems excessive, fair enough; let’s simply emphasize the larger point that different (new) lineup combinations could also unearth new sources of production for this struggling offense.

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