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South Carolina Gamecocks 2023 Preview


South Carolina Gamecocks
Spencer Rattler throwing ball. Photo Credit-TigerNet via Flickr

In Shane Beamer’s second season at the helm, the South Carolina Gamecocks took a huge step forward in rebuilding a winning program. For the first time since 2018, the Gamecocks broke into the top 25, getting as high as #20 in Weeks 14 and 15, before finishing the season ranked 23rd.


While they were unable to defeat the Fighting Irish in the Gator Bowl, they kept the game close, only losing by a touchdown to then-19th-ranked Notre Dame.


Gamecocks Offense

Coach Beamer built much of the rebirth upon transfer quarterback and former five-star recruit Spencer Rattler. Rattler surprised many by choosing to stay for his redshirt senior season instead of declaring for the NFL Draft.


Although Rattler has stayed, many pieces around him will be different. No longer will he have Marshawn Lloyd to hand off to. Lloyd entered the transfer portal and will be taking his talents to the west coast’s USC. Instead, it will be junior Juju McDowell carrying the ball out of the backfield.

Rattler will still have his favorite target in the receiving game in 6’1” Antwane Wells Jr. However, Rattler will still need to work with his new targets in transfers Eddie Lewis and Trey Knox, as both Jalen Brooks and tight end Jaheim Bell have departed Columbia.


The most perplexing question for the Gamecock offense will be the offensive line, with only Vershon Lee returning from last year’s squad and switching positions from guard to center. Lonnie Teasley, South Carolina’s offensive line coach, has but a short time to bring together his players in order to protect Rattler and the rushers from the nasty SEC defenses.


Gamecocks Defense

On the defensive side of the ball, there are many more questions. More players have returned than on the offense, but the secondary will be very young and untested. Both Gamecock safeties are sophomores, and both did get to start in the Gator Bowl. Gamecock fans got a great look at the future. D.Q. Smith snagged an interception in the game, which gave Gamecock fans a thrilling glimpse into his capabilities as well.


2023 Season preview

The 2023 season will be a roller coaster ride of opponents for the Gamecocks. They start off the season in Charlotte at the Duke’s Mayo Classic against a tough North Carolina team. It’s unknown if a win will see Shane Beamer be doused in mayonnaise or not, but one can hope!


Following the tough UNC game, the Gamecocks will hold their home opener against FCS opponent Furman. It should be a pleasant warm-up for South Carolina before heading into the brutal SEC competition.


Their first SEC game will be the toughest of the season: against defending National Champions Georgia - in Athens. Ouch.


The following three games will be crucial in determining where the Gamecocks really stand, facing off against Mississippi State, heading to Knoxville to take on Tennessee, and then hosting the Florida Gators.


Then, they have two road games, traveling to the Missouri Columbia to take on the Tigers, followed by a showdown at College Station against the Aggies.


A home non-conference respite against FBS newcomer Jacksonville State will give the Gamecocks a break before the three-game home stretch to finish their regular season with games against Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Clemson.


While this schedule could even be tougher, it will still be a tough run at times, especially the three-game stretch to start the SEC campaign.


Schedule/Predictions:

North Carolina- W 24-21

Furman- W 60-10

@ Georgia- L 49-14

Mississippi State- W 35-21

@ Tennessee- L 42-14

Florida- L 28-24

@ Missouri- W 24-21

@ Texas A&M- L 35-14

Jacksonville State- W 56-7

Vanderbilt- W 24-3

Kentucky- L 24-21

Clemson- L 28-24


Final Record/Postseason

6-6, Las Vegas Bowl


Final Thoughts

Although my prediction may seem pessimistic (trust me - I had to do a couple of double takes myself at having them go .500), it’s not so much about the quality of South Carolina but the difficulty of the schedule placed before them!


With a few upsets against some of these teams, their season outcome can change dramatically. Spencer Rattler has the ability to overcome nearly any obstacle. Both the Florida and Kentucky games can go either way. Either of those two games can be flipped to the win column, and suddenly change the Gamecock’s record from 6-6 to 8-4.


While Shane Beamer is building something in Columbia, they aren’t quite there yet. But positive steps are being made.


South Carolina 2022 Summary

Record last season: 8-5, 4-4 in the SEC

Final ranking: 23

Postseason result: Lost to Notre Dame 45-38 in the Gator Bowl

Head Coach: Shane Beamer (3rd season with South Carolina)

Returning starters: 3 offense 4 defense

Key players: Spencer Rattler, Antwane Wells Jr, Tonka Hemingway

Key transfers in Sidney Fugar (OL from Western Illinois), Trey Knox (TE from Arkansas), Eddie Lewis (WR from Memphis)

Key transfers out Jordan Burch (to Oregon), RJ Roderick (to Liberty), Marshawn Lloyd (to USC), Jaheim Bell (to Florida State)


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