South Carolina football: Beamer preaches patience as fans grow restless
Sounding defiant and, at times, irritable, South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer tried to calm nerves and reassure the fan base this week when he discussed the Gamecocks’ recent struggles.
Put succinctly, Beamer’s message was that the season is young, the rebuild is early and there are plenty of building blocks remaining to get to where South Carolina fans want the program to be. He referenced his earlier “doom and gloom” comments that came with a similar tone and delivery following Luke Doty’s initial foot injury. Then he reminded everyone that the “sky is not falling.”
Beamer, though, may not be aware that for years under Will Muschamp, the message after a disappointing stretch or losing streak was, “We’ll get it fixed.” A concrete plan toward a solution is better received than a word salad.
Beamer pumped the brakes on the panic among the Garnet and Black faithful after a 2-2 start that includes consecutive SEC losses to Georgia and Kentucky.
“You have to stick to the plan and just stay focused on the process,” Beamer said about struggles for a first-year coach. “I’m not going to all of a sudden make rash decisions off of 4 games. We’re 4 games into Year 1, and we have a good plan for how we’re going to get this thing going. We’re still in September, have played 2 SEC games and 4 total. We’re not blowing up everything after 4 games. We’ve got good players, we’ve got good coaches and we’ve got to perform better.”
Asked about lessons he has learned from his father and other coaches in his career about managing dry spells or growing pains, Beamer took a wide view.
“Things are never as good as they seem, never as bad as they seem, they’re somewhere in between,” Beamer said. “There was certainly a lot of bad in ways the other night, and certainly a lot of good as well. I think our players realize how close we are. It’s frustrating we weren’t able to get over the hump the other night.”
Based on the line of questioning at Tuesday’s press conference, Beamer seemed to get a better idea of the fan base’s mood since Saturday’s 16-10 loss to Kentucky and the temperature of message boards and call-in shows. Armchair and barstool coaches are wondering about the direction of the program, and if coaching staff changes make sense.
“I’m not sure what the outside narrative is outside of this building, don’t really care, but I know in this building, we see how close we are,” Beamer said. “We as a team know that we have a lot to clean up, players and coaches. Details on the field, details off the field. We don’t think we’re on some sinking ship because we’re 2-2 and lost to 2 undefeated teams. It’s not like that at all.”
While this is a nonconference game on Saturday, Troy is far from a pushover. In fact, the 2-2 Trojans are ranked No. 4 in the country in total defense, as they have allowed just 245 yards per game.
One troubling stat is turnover margin, which tends to even out over the course of the season. The Gamecocks are plus-4 by way of collecting an eye-popping 7 interceptions. Will that pace continue? Probably not. However, they also lost the margin against East Carolina, a win, while winning it against Georgia and Kentucky, along with Eastern Illinois.
While the results look similar from the previous few seasons, Beamer maintains that the culture is strong, and there is an air of optimism and togetherness around the program.
Gamecocks fans may need to be forgiven for the response to the lackluster start because the program hasn’t been better than 2-2 since 2017, when it started 3-1 with wins over N.C. State, Missouri and Louisiana Tech. But that also included a loss to Kentucky, which has become too common in some fans’ minds.
Back-to-back losses and an irritable fan base often reveal plenty about a program in transition. That stands to be the next chapter in the Beamer era.