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South Carolina Gamecocks Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the South Carolina season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
South Carolina Gamecocks Preview
Head Coach: Shane Beamer, 7-6, 2nd year at South Carolina
2021 Preview: Overall: 7-6, Conference: 3-5
Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
South Carolina Top 10 Players
South Carolina Schedule & Analysis
South Carolina Gamecocks Preview 2022
You see that?
It’s one of the hardest things in sports to spot, but it you look off in the distance, way out there, you might be able to catch a quick glimpse.
It’s an SEC football fan base that actually appears to be sort of … happy? Without winning a national championship?
After going a combined 6-16 in two years before the breakthrough 2021, you can understand why the Gamecock base is excited. That’s what happens when you get a good season that no one saw coming.
These things are gone in a snap, and certainly South Carolina football fans are going to want a whole lot more out of head coach Shane Beamer – losing 30-0 to Clemson is never going to sit well – but there’s real, reasonable anticipation now for a program and team that should be dangerous.
There’s a theory that there’s no better time to be a sports fan of a team than when it’s just on the verge of being really good.
South Carolina is still building, and it’s not going to be easy with a nasty schedule that would bury most teams, but there’s a ton of experience, it has a good young head coach, and with the addition of Spencer Rattler, an argument could be made that no one outside of the Denver Broncos did more to upgrade a quarterback situation.
Is South Carolina going to beat Georgia? Almost certainly not, and it probably won’t beat Texas A&M or Clemson, either, but at least the team is good enough that an upset in any of those three games wouldn’t be insanely crazy – that’s a far cry from where the program was at last year at this time.
And that’s the next step. In 2021 it was the blowout win over Florida that came out of nowhere – along with the rocking of North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl – and this year there needs to be another surprise or two considering how good this starting 22 should be.
SEC fan happy time goes away when the expectations start to become outsized, and that’s coming for South Carolina soon enough.
But for right now, the fan base has a team to get jacked about for the next several months.
South Carolina Gamecocks Preview 2022: Offense, Defense NEXT
South Carolina Gamecocks Preview 2022: Offense
The offense is about to make a jump up. The ground game should’ve been a whole lot stronger, and the chains didn’t move easily enough, and there were WAY too many turnovers.
However, even thought the O was 111th in the nation and only scored 23 points per game, it all looked great in the bowl win over North Carolina, ten starters are back – depending on the alignment – and there’s been a talent upgrade at some of the skill spots.
Think of it this way. The Gamecocks won seven games with a rough offense, and now … look out. And why?
The Gamecocks have a star at quarterback. Spencer Rattler might not have been perfect at Oklahoma, but he’s a real, live, NFL prospect with a brilliant deep arm and the attitude to show the world that he’s ready to be everything he was supposed to be last year.
South Carolina has a 70% passer who threw 40 touchdown passes and 12 picks at a high level – the quarterback game just got upped. 2021 top quarterback Luke Doty is a capable No. 2.
The receiving corps is going to be fantastic. Josh Vann led the team with 43 catches, Dakereon Joyner and TE Jaheim Bell – along with Oklahoma transfer TE Austin Stogner – are solid, and coming in is Antwane Wells, a 116-catch, 1,853-yard, 21 touchdown receiver from James Madison who’ll be a factor right away.
The offensive line is loaded with veterans, but now it has to be better. There’s size, depth, and talent, but it has to bring a push for a running game that averaged just 136 yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry. The Gamecocks ran for just nine touchdowns with six coming in three separate games.
MarShawn Lloyd is a good back who should shine with room to move, and Juju McDowell is a speedster who needs the ball in space. Helping the cause is Wake Forest transfer Christian Beal-Smith, a four-year veteran who averaged 4.8 yards per carry with 1,871 yards and 14 touchdowns at his old gig.
South Carolina Gamecocks Preview 2022: Defense
The defense might not have been Georgia’s, but it was good enough to pick up the slack for an offense that wasn’t always cranking up the production. There’s more than enough experience back to expect at least as much success as it enjoyed last year.
It was sixth in the SEC allowing 356 yards and 24 points per game, and while it wasn’t great against the run or getting into the backfield, the pass defense led the SEC and was seventh in the nation giving up 181 yards per game.
The pass rush died over the second half of last year – but picked back up in a big way in the bowl win – and the top sacker of the last few years is gone.
Kinglsey Enagbare might be done, but Zacch Pickens is a great interior pass rusher who can get behind the line, and former Georgia State Panther Jordan Stachan is good enough on the edge to do more. There’s the depth to come up with a good rotation inside and out.
The linebacking corps gets back Brad Johnson on the outside and Sherrod Greene in the middle. Johnson was second on the team with 74 tackles, and Greene was second in 2018 with 73 tackles, but hasn’t had a lick of luck with injuries over the last few seasons.
The No. 1 pass defense in the SEC will be good again. Granted, the stats are a tad skewed because everyone was busy running the ball, but this group was good, starting with CB/Nickel Cam Smith – he came up with three picks and broken up 11 passes.
Leading playmaker Jaylan Foster is gone at safety, but in comes Devonni Reed from Central Michigan, a two-time All-MAC performer who’ll be a statistical star along with 65-tackle strong safety RJ Roderick.
South Carolina Gamecocks: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT
South Carolina Gamecocks: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats
South Carolina Gamecocks: Key To The 2022 Offense
Pound the rock … pound the rock …
Actually, just be good when the rock is being pounded.
South Carolina has a talent at quarterback in Spencer Rattler, and it has a terrific receiving corps. It’s going to be tempting to throw and keep throwing, and that’s just fine – the running game doesn’t have to crank up 250 yards per game for the O to work.
However, it has to be effective. It only averaged 3.8 yards per carry last season, and it only busted past four yards per pop three times.
Once when when the ground game went off on Florida, once was when it went wild on North Carolina, and the third time was in the opener against Eastern Illinois – all three were wins.
The Gamecocks hit 4.5 yards per carry from 2018 to 2020. Do That – and, BTW, they need to chill on the fumbles when they do.
South Carolina Gamecocks: Key To The 2022 Defense
Just keep taking the ball away.
The pass rush wasn’t great, there were times when offenses ate up third down conversions like M&M’s, and everyone who got inside the 20 left with points on the board.
But the South Carolina defense made up for a whole slew of issues here and there with a whole lot of takeaways.
It came up with 24 on the year, and while they chilled over the second half of the season, the 14 in the first five games served notice for everyone the rest of the way to be far more careful with the ball.
Takeaways didn’t always matter – USC lost to Georgia, Kentucky, and Missouri even though it came up with three takeaways in each game. However, the program is 2-20 over its last 22 games – with that said, it’s 2-1 in its last three – when it doesn’t come up with multiple takeaways.
South Carolina Gamecocks: Key Player To The 2022 Season
DE/LB Jordan Strachan, Sr.
We know he can do it. We know he can get behind the line.
It’s asking for too much to be the main man that Kingsley Enagbare was over the last two seasons when it came to getting into the backfield, but Strachan has the ability to be a force.
The 6-5, 250-pounder was hardly bad in his first year with South Carolina – he made three sacks and six tackles for loss along with a nice interception – but he didn’t roll like he did in his last season at Georgia State.
The veteran made 41 tackles with 9.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in ten games in 2020 – the Gamecocks could use that disruption out of him.
South Carolina Gamecocks: Key Transfer
QB Spencer Rattler, Jr.
He was a real, live, Heisman candidate and top pro prospect at Oklahoma going into last season, and he wasn’t horrible. He just 1) struggled to move the offense consistently, and 2) wasn’t Caleb Williams.
It’s too much to say he played like he had all the pressure in the world on his shoulders, but he wasn’t as strong as he was when he let it rip.
For all of his faults and criticisms at OU, he’s a big-armed, big talent passer who throw 39 touchdown passes and close to 4,600 yards in the last two seasons, won a Big 12 Championship, and a Cotton Bowl.
He was a great get for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina Key Game To The 2022 Season
at Arkansas, Sept. 10
So how real are you, 2022 South Carolina?
Arkansas is going to get asked the same question as it hosts the Gamecocks to start the SEC season right after opening up against Cincinnati.
The Hogs should win this – it’s a home game – but the pressure is going to be on South Carolina to make an early statement and pull this off.
Lose, and there’s a big problem because what’s next in SEC play – Georgia, at Kentucky, Texas A&M.
There are winnable non-conference games and a week off mixed in there, so it won’t be a miserable start before things ease up a wee bit, but with what’s coming and a brutal finishing kick, getting a win on the road early on would mean everything.
South Carolina Gamecocks: 2021 Fun Stats
– Opponent 1st Quarter Scoring: 104 – Opponents 4th Quarter Scoring: 43
– Fumbles: South Carolina 24 (lost 13) – Opponents 16 (lost 9)
– Field Goals: South Carolina 16-of-17 – Opponents 19-of-22
South Carolina Gamecocks Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT
South Carolina Gamecocks Season Prediction, What Will Happen
This might be the toughest team in the SEC to figure out.
On the one hand, there’s a TON of experience returning after a strong winning season.
There’s upside, momentum, excitement, more talent – especially at quarterback – and there are plenty of reasons to think this could be a breakthrough team that takes what it built in 2021 and goes bigger.
And it took a late fight to sneak past Vanderbilt last year. And East Carolina was the only win over a team that finished with a winning record. And it was badly outclassed by Georgia, and Texas A&M, and Florida, and Tennessee.
But this was a rebuilding year under a new head coach, and the Gamecocks went 7-6 with a bowl victory. It was a great season, but this schedule is going to make things a whole lot tougher.
Set The South Carolina Gamecocks Regular Season Win Total At … 7
There’s no question the team is good enough to pull off a big upset somewhere, like at home against Texas A&M or maybe against Georgia.
But can it get by an improved Florida on the road?
The Gamecocks have to go to Arkansas, and Kentucky, and Clemson, and that doesn’t even factor in the date with Tennessee and the home game against a Missouri team that pulled off the win last year.
Having a quarterback as good as Spencer Rattler should be enough to account for at least one more regular season win than last season, but there should be a good base of four wins with Georgia State, Charlotte, South Carolina State, and at Vanderbilt – at least if everything goes right.
There will be at least three wins in there somewhere, and don’t be shocked if there are a few more.