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ATLANTA – It’s amazing what one more win than losses and a transfer portal addition can do for a program.
South Carolina beat North Carolina 38-21 in the Mayo Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 30, 2021, to finish 7-6 – the Gamecocks’ first winning season since 2018, when they also went 7-6. The season under first-year coach Shane Beamer also reversed a 2-8 season under Will Muschamp in 2020.
“We made great strides last season going from two wins to seven wins,” head coach Shane Beamer said Tuesday at SEC Media Days. “Last year I stood up here, and there wasn’t a single person in here that was talking about South Carolina football other than maybe our beat writers. No one was talking about any of the individuals on our football team across the country last year.”
Just weeks before the bowl win, Beamer acquired Oklahoma transfer quarterback Spencer Rattler, who was projected as a Heisman Trophy favorite before the 2021 season, then lost his job to Caleb Williams.
Rattler, a five-star prospect out of Phoenix, Arizona, threw for 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2020 for the Sooners.
South Carolina needed a quarterback bad. Because of various injuries and poor play, Beamer started four quarterbacks last season. He even had to activate graduate assistant Zeb Noland, who became a starter after playing previously as a backup at North Dakota State. Luke Doty, Jason Brown and Dakereon Joyner also started.
“I’m so glad Spencer’s with us,” South Carolina senior defensive lineman Zacch Pickens said Tuesday. “We definitely needed a quarterback. We started four last year. Coach didn’t know what else to do.”
Rattler has created a buzz.
“People are talking about us nationally, which is what we want,” said Beamer, who has also created attention through some creative videos.
He’d rather attract views by winning more games. South Carolina last won 10 games in 2013 under Steve Spurrier, who had three straight 11-win seasons from 2011-13.
“We have high expectations at South Carolina,” Beamer said. “People are talking about our players as individuals more nationally than what they were last year. There’s more buzz about this program right now.”
Pickens noticed the buzz of Rattler’s passes at spring practice.
“This man can throw,” he said. “I mean throw it. God! Everything he throws is a spiral.”
Pickens said “spiral” as if it was something other worldly.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “I think he can turn around our whole offense because we really needed some consistency with the quarterbacks.”
Rattler, who will be a junior for the Gamecocks, played in 23 games at quarterback for Oklahoma in three seasons. As a starter, he was 9-2 in 2020 and 6-0 last year before getting benched.
“I don’t know if there’s pressure,” Beamer said. “I would say this. People forget, Spencer Rattler was the starting quarterback at Oklahoma. He had a pretty high amount of pressure on him. He never flinched. I don’t worry about Spencer. He’s been through the fire before. There will be some ups, certainly some downs this season. But I have no worry about him from that standpoint and being able to handle it. With Spencer, nobody is asking him to go out there and be Superman.”
Well, Pickens is.
“The guy’s going to be great,” he said.
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