It is safe to say the honeymoon is over for Coach Shane Beamer and the Gamecock football program. Once “talking season” was over, the real work began and showed exactly what state the Gamecock football program was in. While the cupboard was not bare when Will Muschamp left this job, it certainly was not stock full of talent either. The excitement of a new coach and a new culture lured many fans into a false sense of hope that this team would be competitive in the SEC east THIS year. That simply is not the case. Shane Beamer has not had a full recruiting cycle to bring in his own players. The culture has changed, and that is one positive through the mid-point of his first season.
Through six games, the Gamecocks are sitting at 3-3, with their wins coming against Eastern Illinois, Troy, and East Carolina. Against SEC competition, the Gamecocks have not looked great. Offensively, whether it be scheme or play-calling, the team is struggling. Last year’s SEC rushing leader, Kevin Harris, has 202 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The team has a paltry three rushing touchdowns on the year. The passing game is not much better. While passing efficiency is high, yardage and scores are low. There have been some highlights so far, with the emergence of Josh Vann as a true #1 receiver, and JuJu McDowell appears to be an emerging star.
Defensively the Gamecocks appear to be ahead of schedule. Apart from the first quarter of the Tennessee game, the Gamecocks defense has looked solid. The team has nine interceptions, with Jaylan Foster having a tie for first in the nation with four. The senior has made a name for himself and appears to be one of the league’s best ballhawks. Clayton White’s squad is ready to play each week and continue to attack opposing offenses.
Coach Beamer has undoubtedly made his mark on special teams. We have seen a punter throw a touchdown through the first six games, several blocked punts, and senior kicker Parker White is perfect on-field goal attempts. Look for this team to continue to find ways to score with special teams as that is Coach Beamer’s specialty.
The next six games are what you would call a “gauntlet.”
The Gamecocks host the Vanderbilt Commodores, who are 2-4 on the year and have been outscored 104-0 in their SEC games this season. This may be the only winnable game over the next few weeks. After this week, the Gamecocks travel to College Station to play the Texas A&M Aggies, who are coming off a massive upset of the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide. Since joining the SEC, the Aggies have had the Gamecocks number.
After a bye week, the Gamecocks host the (4-2) Florida Gators. This game always is competitive each year regardless of record. The Gamecocks then travel to the “other” Columbia for a game against the Missouri Tigers. Again, always a competitive game. This Missouri team gives up a lot of points, so if the Gamecocks can correct the deficiencies they have seen on offense, this could be one that falls the Gamecocks way.
The final SEC game of the year comes as Auburn travels to Williams-Brice to take on the Gamecocks. This one has added flavor to it as Coach Mike Bobo will be on the opposing sideline. Yes, Mike Bobo accepted the offensive coordinator position under Shane Beamer, only to leave and take the newly hired offensive line, Will Friend, with him. Indeed, this one will mean a little bit more to Coach Beamer to get the win. Unfortunately, the Auburn Tigers do not appear to be in quite the rebuild that many thought as they are sitting at 4-2 on the year. While it may be close, Auburn pulls off the win.
Finally, Clemson travels to Columbia in the annual rivalry showdown. This is not the Clemson team of years past. They are struggling offensively and already have two losses on the season and barely escaped a third against Boston College. If this is a big game, the Gamecocks offense can get things going, this game might be closer than many expect. Do not be surprised if the Gamecocks win a close one on November 27th.
Overall, the Gamecocks have surpassed last year’s win total of two. While a bowl game may be out of the question, this team is certainly improving and will continue to find its identity under Coach Beamer. While there are not very many winnable games left on the season, the Gamecocks may finish with a 5-7 record on the year. If they can pull off an upset, a bowl game may be within reach.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4WmdydDeBM