SEC Team Preview Series: South Carolina
Welcome to WNSP’s preview series to get you ready for SEC and Sunbelt Media Days. Each day, we will preview a new team in each conference and get you ready for football season. We’ll take a look at what Vegas has their win total set at, make a prediction, and talk about their season outlook. Today’s team: The South Carolina Gamecocks
Players to watch:
Offense: QB Spencer Rattler, TE Jaheim Bell, The Entire Offensive Line
Defense: CB Cam Smith, DT Zacch Pickens
O/U Win Line: 6
Dave Schultz’s Pick: Over
Mark Heim’s Pick: Under
Lee Shirvanian’s Pick: PUSH
Nick Wiggins’ Pick: Under
Michael Brauner’s Pick: PUSH
The Shane Beamer era got off to a much better start than many anticipated in 2021 for South Carolina. With a 7-6 season that concluded with a big victory over a heavily favored North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, ending the season with a Beamer mayonnaise bath certainly exceeded the expectations of many for the Gamecocks last season. And they did it all while starting four different quarterbacks over the course of the season.
This year, they don’t head into the season with the same question marks at the most important position on the field, with a huge get from the transfer portal in former disgruntled Oklahoma starter Spencer Rattler.
Look, no matter how you may feel about Rattler and how his situation played out at OU, the fact of the matter is that this kid can play. And without the added pressure of being expected to perform like a Heisman finalist and lead his team to the playoff, this could be a perfect situation for Rattler to flourish. If the pieces around him can perform how they need to, this team could be decent in 2022.
The entire offensive line returns, but this same line was one of the worst in the nation last season, so it simply has to get better for the Gamecocks to compete. Jaheim Bell will be a nice security blanket for Rattler in the passing game, especially if he doesn’t have a lot of time to throw.
On defense, they have a lot of returning talent and Cam Smith returns as one of the top cornerback prospects in next year’s draft, but this is a team that could not stop the run in 2021. Zacch Pickens and company will have to do a better job of stopping the run and take pressure off the secondary.
Schedule wise, the SEC schedule is brutal, but non-conference is a cake walk. They have to beat Georgia State, Charlotte, and South Carolina State which should be an easy 3 wins and get them halfway to six. Add in Vanderbilt and that’s four. Outside of that, they are at Arkansas, Florida, and Kentucky and also must face Georgia and Clemson.
They do have winnable games against Missouri, Texas A&M, and Tennessee at home, but I just do not see them winning more than two of these. I think that Rattler will be enough to get them to six wins however, even with this gauntlet of a schedule.