South Carolina football: Same song, different verse? Shane Beamer needs to break Gamecocks' cycle
South Carolina has fallen into a rut again, and the most pressing issue for Shane Beamer should be to figure out a way to pull the Gamecocks out.
What the coaching staff has tried for a couple of weeks now is not working, and the excuse of playing against No. 2 Georgia went out the window in the raucous environment of Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday night against a Kentucky team the Gamecocks were capable of scoring on. There’s only so long you can talk in vague generalities about fixing the offense before it becomes repetitive. Beamer is nearly there.
How does this coaching staff, especially on offense, respond to adversity?
Through 4 games, South Carolina is less productive offensively than it was at the end of last season. The Gamecocks are averaging 322 yards per game on offense, which is 13th in the SEC. Last season, they were at 355 yards against stiffer competition overall than games that include Eastern Illinois and East Carolina.
On the surface, it appears that the problems lie with the offensive line and running backs, but Beamer suggests that the tight ends are involved, and some of the quarterback footwork could improve.
“It’s a multitude of things and it is, that’s the thing, it’s not just one person,” Beamer said on the Sunday media teleconference, per SportsTalkSC. “There were some plays last night, I mean the first play of the game, if we get to the – we don’t get to the front-side linebacker. We block him and I’m not so sure we don’t have a long, long run the first play of the game. There are some runs where the wide receiver – perimeter blocking has got to be better, where Luke (Doty) ran the football and we’ve got to be better blocking on the perimeter.”
Will Beamer make a change on his coaching staff? Staff hires have been called into question, and after Auburn fired its wide receivers coach, and Vanderbilt changed its play-calling protocol, Beamer wouldn’t be the only first-year SEC coach to make an early change. Offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield already admitted to not using Juju McDowell against Georgia was a huge mistake, and it even was something that was still “driving me nuts.”
It doesn’t take a football genius to wonder why a team that returned 4 starters on the offensive line, and had Kevin Harris lead the SEC in rushing, is now somehow putting out 40 yards less per game on the ground, and has slipped to 11th in the SEC in rushing.
It can be a micro change, or a macro, but Beamer is still digesting all of the variables, including his 4th-down decision-making.
“One of the fourth downs, the ball to Kevin, his pace or tempo hitting the hole was a little bit quick. We pull the guard and the guard got bumped off by the center and Kevin was a little quick on the pace of the play and ran up in the hole before the guard could get there,” Beamer said. “It’s a host of things and it starts with us as coaches and continuing to hone-in on the little things and giving us a chance to be successful. I don’t think it’s scheme. I think we ran a lot of the same plays last night that South Carolina’s offense ran last year, and we’ve just got to continue to execute that we look to call and coach up better what we’re running.”
South Carolina is tied for 12th in the SEC with 9 total sacks allowed. Kentucky had 2 on Saturday night.
“OK, not bad, not great,” Beamer said. “(Marquan McCall) for them is a load inside. He weighs like 380 pounds, so he’s certainly a load in the middle and got some good push. Mentally, we’ve got to be better across the board.”
The McCall comment is similar to one Beamer had previously about Georgia’s Jordan Davis. As the pattern suggests, the Gamecocks will face a player like that on the defensive front most weeks in the SEC.
There have been pass-protection busts for running backs, and miscommunication among the offensive line.
“We’ve just got to really be better at that, obviously,” Beamer said. “That can’t happen. We’re going to communicate at the line of scrimmage and we’ve got to do a better job executing and having everybody on the same page.”
The Gamecocks get Troy this week, and still have Vanderbilt on the schedule as they zero in on bowl possibilities. But that still leaves 2 more wins needed, and this kind of offensive showing likely won’t cut it.
It’s time for changes to come.