South Carolina Gamecocks Fall Flat On Their Face

You may have heard a loud thud between 4 and 7 pm on Saturday in the midlands area. It was the sound of South Carolina crashing back down to earth after a four-game winning streak. A pitiful showing against Missouri saw the Gamecocks fall flat on their face. This was just a week after beating Texas A&M for the first time and sneaking into the AP top 25. It was a brutal letdown for Shane Beamer’s team, in a performance where they were dominated in all three phases. Now the Gamecocks still sit one win short of bowl eligibility with three of their final four contests on the road.

Gamecocks Fall Flat On Their Face

A timid first half on defense and an abysmal showing on offense saw the Gamecocks fall 23-10 to the Tigers. A letdown seemed inevitable from the start. Missouri showed up to play like it was their Super Bowl, while South Carolina looked energized and focused enough to compete in a Spring Game. It was a harsh reality check for the team and fans, that despite building momentum, nothing has been accomplished yet. Beamer must now get his team prepared to find something positive before heading to Nashville this weekend.


The big topic in Columbia this week is the status of Marcus Satterfield. The much-maligned offensive coordinator is a source of ire and frustration in the eyes of Gamecock fans. We are 21 games into his tenure. His offense has looked effective and efficient for an entire ball game only three or four times. There is a multitude of issues on the offensive side of the ball but ultimately it boils down to the players looking poorly coached. The play-calling and substitution patterns can both be described as erratic and without a noticeable plan. The passing game has been whittled down to throwing wide receiver screens or launching it 40 yards downfield for a jump ball. The concept of an intermediate passing attack with slants, crossers, or seam routes is nonexistent.

Last year there was the built-in excuse based on the talent level on the roster and at quarterback in particular. Spencer Rattler was supposed to remedy that. It hasn’t happened through eight games. Even with the upgrade in talent all over the offense, this unit still struggles to function at a consistent level. There have been constant mentions of this being a complicated “pro-style” offense. In practice, it has just been predictable and underwhelming. There is the occasional drive or two per game where things look good. There have also been times when one of the playmakers does something special with the ball in their hands. Otherwise, it’s been a mess of negative plays, sideways passes, and turnovers. You can’t win in the SEC relying on game-changing special teams plays or turnovers that set up short fields.

Never Change

There has always been a notion in football that you can sub or switch underperforming players at every position except quarterback. The loyalty, bordering on stubbornness, to stick with a player who is not playing well simply because of the position they play is dangerous. The Gamecocks are teetering on that very line right now. Rattler was clearly not seeing the field or making good throws this past Saturday. However, the thought to see if backup Luke Doty could spark a dormant offense never seemed to occur. Saying this is not calling for a QB controversy or for Rattler to not see that field anymore. It is simply stating that sometimes you must make tough decisions in the heat of the moment. South Carolina refused to do so and they limped to defeat.

The Decision Process

In the 2018 national title game, Nick Saban made a halftime decision to bench Jalen Hurts despite him being 25-2 as a starter. He brought in freshman Tua Tagovailoa to jumpstart his team. They then fought back from a 13-0 deficit and won the title. It was a tough and brave decision. Saban had the fortitude to make it, and it won his program a national title. The next season he made the opposite swap and brought on Hurts to change the SEC title game in his team’s favor.

Despite saying publicly that they believe in Doty and seeing Rattler struggle mightily, the South Carolina staff did not have to gall to make the switch and try to spark their stagnant offense against Missouri. Rattler is certainly not to blame for all the offensive ineptitude this team has displayed, but his play hasn’t been good enough. He is averaging two turnovers a game whether it be interceptions or lost fumbles. Regardless of his overall talent and potential, you must have a quarterback you can trust to run the offense and take care of the ball. The high-profile transfer is not doing either of those things well at the moment.


The other issue with the offense is the usage of the best players in garnet and black. Jahiem Bell is the most prominent case of this happening. Coming into the season the junior tight end was looked at as an ALL-SEC caliber talent and a mismatch nightmare for defenses. Eight games into the season and he has been limited to minimal opportunities to showcase his skills.

Lately, he isn’t even getting those minimal chances. His snaps on offense are going down each game, to as low as nine total snaps this past weekend. Every week both Beamer and Satterfield talk about Bell’s abilities and how they want to get him the ball, then each Saturday those words ring hollow as he barely sees the field.  Josh Vann was last season’s leading receiver, and he has seen his targets and usage plummet as well. There has to be a more concerted effort to get these guys the ball.

Run and Gone

Even star tailback Marshawn Lloyd has been the victim of the misusage of talented playmakers. He got banged up in the second quarter on Saturday but had only a few touches up to that point. The week prior against Texas A&M he had only three first-half carries while the Gamecock offense had no drives that gained over 19 yards. A similar stat could also be brought up about the first half versus Kentucky. The two previous games resulted in better second-half performances and victories. Unfortunately, the erratic nature of Satterfield’s play calls and substitution packages caught up to them against Missouri. A struggling passing game that refuses to attack the intermediate areas of the defense can’t also forget to utilize their run game.

Must Win

Watching the Gamecocks fall flat on their face this past weekend means that this next matchup becomes very critical. The road trip to Vanderbilt now becomes a must-win game to achieve bowl eligibility and salvage the season. That seems harsh to say with a 5-3 record. However, the final three games at Florida, Tennessee, at Clemson, look increasingly daunting after this past weekend’s debacle. Beamer must find a way to get his team back on the right track in Nashville. Otherwise, the Gamecocks’ fall could extend past one tough loss and into a spiral. He will also need to show he has the willingness and fortitude to make some tough decisions to secure the future of the program. Things can change fast in college football, and last week’s momentum can quickly become this week’s misery.

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