After back-to-back disappointing seasons, Shane Beamer was brought in as the new head coach at South Carolina. He is looking to bring back the success this program had when he was an assistant over a decade ago. Coming off of two seasons with a combined record of 6-16, it can be a struggle to find positives to build on. However, for Beamer’s Gamecocks, the cupboard is not bare heading in to 2021. While there are plenty of areas to improve and positions to bolster, there is also plenty of talent on this roster to build with.
For Shane Beamer’s Gamecocks, The Cupboard Is Not Bare
Shane Beamer’s Gamecocks Starting Blocks
The biggest issue at South Carolina the past few years has been consistency. The inability to sustain momentum, or know what version of the team would show up on a given Saturday has been lamented by fans and analysts alike. Even amid the losing there have been plenty of times where the talent in garnet and black was on display. This program lacked a level of focus and mental toughness that has kept them from performing at a high level. It will be the main task for the new staff to get this team to cut out the mistakes and inconsistencies that led to so many underwhelming performances.
The first place to look when searching for building blocks with Beamer’s Gamecocks is the backfield. The combination of Kevin Harris and Marshawn Lloyd has the potential to be one of the best tailback duos in the SEC going forward. Harris burst onto the scene in 2020 and led the conference in rushing yards during the regular season. He had over 1100 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. He also chipped in to the passing game with 21 receptions. Harris showed off a skill set of power, vision, balance, and he has more speed than you’d expect when he hits the open field. His production also shows that the offensive line is capable of creating holes and controlling the line of scrimmage.
Lloyd was a five star recruit out of Maryland who missed 2020 with a preseason knee injury. There was a high level of excitement to see what this kid can do, but those expectations had to be put on hold. He will be back and fully healthy for the 2021 season. Lloyd is an extremely explosive player. His addition to the backfield will provide a different look than the power game Harris thrives in. Freshman Rashad Amos was also productive in limited action late in the season.
In the Trenches
The base of any winning football program is in its strength along the lines of scrimmage. This is another area in which South Carolina has talent already in place. The offensive line that paved the way for Harris’ big season will have four starters returning. The pass blocking needs to improve, but this group has shown it can hold its own.
Along the defensive front, Coach Beamer’s Gamecocks have plenty of talent to work with. Kingsley Enagbare led the SEC in sacks in 2020. He has become a solid play maker at defensive end. Zacch Pickens was a prized five star recruit when he arrived on campus. He slowly became more impactful in the interior of the line as last season wore on. Jordan Burch was another five star recruit that chose the Gamecocks. He showed flashes of his ability as a freshman, but he will look to break out as a true force on defense moving forward.
There is also some good depth to rely on along the defensive front. Tonka Hemingway surprised a lot of people with his impact as a true freshman. He flashed in multiple games and should develop into a good SEC player. Jabari Ellis, Alex Huntley, Rick Sandidge will all play a factor in the trenches.
While there is some solid returning talent to lean on in 2021, a team doesn’t go 6-16 over two seasons without some holes to fill. Coach Beamer’s Gamecocks have plenty of building to do within the roster. The bulk of the needs personnel wise are on the outside. The secondary and the receiving corps need to be overhauled, even if for different reasons. The defensive backfield lost most of its contributors from recent years through due to transfers and players leaving early. South Carolina is very thin in the secondary and will need some young guys to step up sooner rather than later.
On offense, the receiving corps is a huge question mark. Shi Smith is off to the NFL, and no one else has shown the ability to make plays. The passing game does get a boost with tight end Nick Muse deciding to return. Ahmarean Brown has transferred in from Georgia Tech after two years with the Yellow Jackets. Players like Xavier Legette, Josh Vann, and Jalen Brooks need to make a big leap in production. Cutting out the drops that have plagued this team recently is a must.
The Gamecocks won’t have an easy road to get back to winning ways. Their schedule is always among the toughest in the country. There are definite holes to fill on this roster and in the culture of the program. Coach Beamer and his staff have a tough task ahead of them. Luckily, they do have a solid core of talented players to lean on as they begin to build things back up.