The 2022 season at South Carolina is going to be one of the more fascinating seasons for any team in the United States.
By Matt Zemek
The Gamecocks surprised a lot of people in 2021 under new coach Shane Beamer, qualifying for a bowl game in a season when many pundits expected no more than three or four wins. South Carolina didn’t stop there. Having reached a bowl game, the Gamecocks throttled North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte. Not only winning a bowl, but beating a North Carolina team which was ranked in the 2021 preseason top 25, was immensely satisfying to everyone in Columbia.
Now, in 2022, the opportunity is there for South Carolina to take a forward leap as a program.
The Gamecocks made one of the biggest transfer portal acquisitions of the offseason when they grabbed quarterback Spencer Rattler from Oklahoma. Shane Beamer previously coached at OU under Lincoln Riley, so there was a relationship with Rattler which formed a pipeline from Norman to Columbia. Rattler’s career never took off under Riley at Oklahoma. Beamer will now try to coach the highly-regarded prospect and get the most out of his talents. If he can, this season could be special.
Let’s look at some South Carolina keys versus Georgia State, a team which went 8-5 last season and won its bowl game in a blowout.
1 – Give Rattler confidence
South Carolina should give Rattler plenty of short, easy throws to begin this game and then go from there. Short passes can set up longer ones on fakes or in good down-and-distance situations. Everything South Carolina does in the first half needs to send a message to Rattler that he is in a good position, and that if he makes the right pre-snap reads, everything else will take care of itself.
2 – Play above the competition
South Carolina struggled with Vanderbilt and some other 2021 opponents it figured to handle a little more comfortably. Georgia State is not a bad team, but it comes from a Group of Five conference. It’s human nature to write off opponents from smaller conferences, but South Carolina and its players do not have that luxury, and they must never be allowed to lapse into bad habits.
3 – Shut off the big play
Georgia State finished 2021 with a flourish, scoring 37 or more points in three of its last four games, including 51 in its bowl romp. The South Carolina secondary needs to make sure that it doesn’t give up chunk plays. The last thing this team can afford to do is allow lots of points, putting Rattler in a situation where he has to win wild shootouts every week. The Gamecocks can’t go there.