South Carolina football: Georgia offers true barometer for Shane Beamer's acumen as a head coach
The way Shane Beamer leads a program, particularly this version of South Carolina, is demonstrably different than how Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp lead a program.
Yes, the players loved to play for Muschamp last season, and that was never more evident than the days after he was fired that the Gamecocks had a near-mass exodus of transfers, opt-outs and NFL departures. But there is a different spin on the approach to being a players’ coach that Beamer brings to the table.
Kicker Parker White described it after the heart-pounding win over East Carolina on Saturday.
“What separates this team from the past is just, honestly, how much we love each other,” White said. “That’s been the word of the offseason, love your brother.”
Well said, @parker_white4
— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) September 12, 2021
That leadership approach will be put to an early test Saturday in front of another hostile environment as the Gamecocks enter as 30-plus point underdogs at Georgia in a game featuring 2 coaches, Smart and Muschamp, who have more experience than Beamer, more tenure in the SEC on a Saturday night and at least some internal grasp of the Gamecocks’ roster.
The adversity that South Carolina experienced in the first half against East Carolina last week will be like a dripping faucet compared to the fire hose that will be unleashed on the Gamecocks this time.
Sure, the Gamecocks went into Sanford Stadium 2 years ago and pulled the upset during a noon game. And yes, Georgia has questions at quarterback and still hasn’t stretched the field on offense. But there’s a reason the point spread is wider than it was against UAB, by roughly a touchdown.
Beamer is a believer, but we’re about to find out if the scoreboard can cash a check written by the culture he’s built, and the locker room speeches he’s given.
“I’ve learned we’ve got the right mindset, I told them at them at halftime that we’d find out a lot about this team in the second half, and we did,” Beamer said of the touchdown deficit at East Carolina on a Sunday media teleconference, per SportsTalkSC. “I found out, not that I didn’t know it, but only confirmed that we’ve got a bunch of fighters on this team, we’ve got a bunch of competitors on this team, we’ve got some guys that can make plays on this team. We’ve got some guys that never flinched yesterday, no matter how ugly it looked at times, bunch of guys that love each other and believe in each other.”
Beamer is no stranger to Sanford Stadium. He’s been there as a Georgia Tech graduate assistant, with Tennessee as a graduate assistant, with Mississippi State as an assistant, with South Carolina as an assistant, and of course on the home sideline as an assistant for 2 years.
“There’ll be some great memories, but we have a job to do,” Beamer said.
Beamer described the “Will Muschamp factor” as having little to do with the game, even though Beamer said Muschamp would obviously know personnel. But the scheme is the biggest thing, and there’s not a lot of knowledge about how the Gamecocks deploy their attacks that Muschamp would know, Beamer said.
“At the end of the day, it’ll get down to the players and that will always be the case,” Beamer said.
What it will reveal is what Beamer took from someone like Smart, who was one of his coaching mentors who helped him develop some of those now well-known binders of preparation he used to become a head coach.
“I know how he runs that program, and no one in that facility is ever allowed to get comfortable,” Beamer said. “Coaches and players. Meaning they’re not sitting around right now patting themselves on the back about their 2-0 start. They’re in there doing everything in their power to get better this week, and that’s why they’re consistently good, and we know they’ll be better on Saturday night against us than they were last week against UAB, probably the week before against Clemson. So that’s the biggest thing, it’s the mindset that he demands and the complacency that he does not allow.”
Many people know that about Smart. What they know about Beamer in an SEC road environment is about to be revealed.