South Carolina football: Bye week offers reprieve from woeful offense as Gamecocks aim to fix problems
Shane Beamer is still taking the long view on the South Carolina season, and math, at the moment, is still on his side. The Gamecocks have 4 wins, 4 losses and 4 games to play, and by the looks of their opponents, all could be seen as a winnable game, which is quite the turn from the summer.
That says more about those other programs than the Gamecocks, but the next hurdle to clear is to use the bye week to again reset the offense after a dismal showing at Texas A&M.
Beamer so far is deflecting repeated questions about offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield as the offensive line and running game seem to have gone backward from last season. The Gamecocks were in negative yardage for about 75% of the game Saturday, and the coaching staff so far doesn’t appear to have an answer.
Benjamin Watson on the SEC Network at halftime on Saturday night put it this way: “This is a time when you challenge your o-line. You challenge the guys in the trenches, ‘Look, you’ve got to protect the quarterback.’ There is no excuse for Zeb Noland to get hit like that. And also running, they’ve got negative 10 yards rushing. They’re averaging half a yard a play. At some point you come to the big guys up front and say, ‘Look, we want you to beat up the other team. We want to run behind you guys, take control of this football game.'”
Or put another way, as the SEC Network’s Cole Cubelic reported Beamer telling him at halftime, “You got any suggestions. He said, ‘Listen, we’ve tried everything. We’ve slid the protection, we’ve got the ball out on the perimeter, we’re trying to get it out quick. He said they’re rushing 4 and we’re having trouble protecting our quarterback. We’re just not going to be able to run the football that way, so we’ve got to get creative and find some ways to run the football first, hopefully that’ll help protection, get some things moving.”
Beamer on his Sunday evening media teleconference said putting players in more competitive and advantageous 1-on-1 situations is coaching and scheme.
“We have to get better fundamentally to win those battles and look at what we’re doing schematically,” Beamer said, per SportsTalkSC. “We have an 8-game body of work to see where we are in all 3 phases. We have to look at what we do well, and how can we be more efficient in performing at a higher level in all 3 phases than what we did last night.”
The alarming thing about the Gamecocks is not only are they noticeably worse in multiple areas from last season, such as wide receiver, running back and offensive line, they appear to be worse from earlier this season. For example, South Carolina has thrown 4 interceptions the past 2 games, and had 3 in the first 6 games.
However you describe the team from Week 1 to now, it can’t be an improvement and even the 4-4 record is a bit misleading given their play in SEC action, which includes a storybook ending and still features 3 blowouts.
The Gamecocks are averaging less than 3 touchdowns per game on offense, which is 13th in the SEC and nearly a full touchdown behind No. 12 Mississippi State.
The latest twist comes in the form of a third quarterback, Jason Brown, who showed flashes late against Texas A&M but also threw 2 interceptions.
Beamer calls Brown a gamer, but time will tell if the coaching staff can work up the latest magic to close out the season. Beamer maintains that no one is happy with where the Gamecocks are, but the question lingers about the direction to fix these problems.
Will a bye week translate to a solution with a beatable Florida team coming off a likely physical game with Georgia?
“We all need to have a sense of urgency to get it right,” Beamer said.