2022 South Carolina Gamecocks Season Review

Gamecocks season

South Carolina ended 2022 with a bang by beating two top 10 teams and ending the playoff hopes of those two. The Gamecocks season overall was a bit of a roller coaster, but the victories over Tennessee and Clemson capped it in the best way possible. Now Shane Beamer’s team will face Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. They will be looking for their ninth win of 2022. The Gamecocks have built solid momentum with their final two performances. However, the overall grades for this team show there is still plenty of work to be done.

South Carolina Gamecocks Season Review

The Gamecocks season got off to a rocky start, going just 1-2 over the first three contests. A victory over Georgia State in the opener was followed by disappointing losses at Arkansas and top-ranked Georgia. The second of those performances was not pleasing to watch as the Bulldogs bullied South Carolina in all three phases. Some outside of the program questioned the Gamecocks’ resolve and ability to turn things around. Luckily, those on the inside always believed and just continued to put in the work to get better. The Gamecocks would win seven of their final nine games to finish at 8-4. They rebounded from an 0-2 start in SEC play to finish the conference slate at 4-4. There were still bumps in the road, with the losses to Florida and Missouri both being quite ugly to watch. However, this group showed a high level of resiliency and never stopped fighting to improve.

Streak Stoppers

A large part of the momentum built in 2022, was the negative streaks the Gamecocks were able to stop. They ended losing streaks to Kentucky, Texas A&M, Tennessee, and Clemson. South Carolina had lost two straight overall and four in a row in Lexington before taking down the Wildcats 24-14. They did so behind a dominant performance by Zacch Pickens and the defensive front and over 100 yards rushing from Marshawn Lloyd. The next week they went out and beat Texas A&M for the first time in the series’ history after jumping out to a 17-0 lead. Xavier Legette returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and the garnet and black never looked back.

The Gamecocks season seemed to take a drastic turn for the worse after a pitiful performance against the Florida Gators. The team looked lost and beaten, with games against highly ranked Tennessee and Clemson remaining. After struggling for a rhythm most of the year, Spencer Rattler found his groove for the last two contests. He led an offensive explosion versus the Vols, racking up 438 yards and a school-record six touchdowns threw the air. The talented signal caller followed that up with another 360 yards and two scores at rival Clemson. Antwane Wells Jr was spectacular in both games, combining for 308 yards on 20 catches. The back-to-back wins over top 10 opponents also ended losing streaks of three and seven respectively. The victories vaulted the Gamecocks to number 19 in the final CFP rankings.


Offensively, things were a struggle for much of the season in Columbia. The big moments that did happen usually involved a heavy dose of Wells and Lloyd. The transfer wideout was recently named ALL-SEC 2nd. He has a chance at a 1000-yard season if he plays and has a big bowl game. While the passing game was still scuffling, it was Lloyd that led the team to victories over Kentucky and A&M with consecutive 100-yard performances. Lloyd also had the highlight of the season when he leaped over a Charlotte defender like a hurdle before cutting outside and finding the end zone. Despite missing more than three games, he finished tied for 6th in the SEC in touchdowns. Jalen Brooks and Jahiem Bell were also crucial to this team’s offensive success.

On the other side of the ball, Pickens, Nick Emmanwori, and Darius Rush played the most consistently during the Gamecocks season. Pickens was unblockable at times, especially in the win over Kentucky. Emmanwori was lightly recruited out of Irmo High School. However, he quickly proved he belonged in the best conference in college football. The freshman safety was second in the SEC in solo tackles and earned multiple Freshman All-American honors. Rush was not only very good at corner all year, but he also played a big role on the best special teams unit in the nation.

Cobra Kai

Speaking of special teams, the Gamecocks dominated in that phase all season. Mitch Jeter was 10-10 on field goals including two from over 50 yards and the game-winner at Clemson. Legette, Josh Vann, and Amarhean Brown all had their moments in the return game. The biggest star was punter Kai Kroeger. He had a phenomenal season, finishing second in the nation in yards per punt average. He was also among the leaders in punts downed inside the 20 and was 3-3 passing with 84 yards and a touchdown on fake punts. The junior was somehow left off the Ray Guy Award finalist list, but his contributions to this team will not be forgotten.

One More Scene

Now the Gamecocks season is set to finish with a high-profile match-up against Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. It will be a chance at a ninth victory in just year two under Beamer. This game will also provide a chance to take down another ranked and big-name opponent. Barring a blowout loss, South Carolina is already in a good position to finish the year ranked, but a win could push them into the top 15. That would be a huge accomplishment for a program that was a mess before Beamer arrived and was left for dead as recently as early November. A season-ending three-game win streak would add to the foundation already being built, and just give more positive ammunition to this staff on the recruiting trail.

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