South Carolina stock report after regular season: Gamecocks fall short, but what's next for program?
South Carolina almost clinched a spot in the postseason, but ultimately fell short to Clemson on Saturday.
The team started the year off at 2-2. Then, things started to fall apart with a 4-game losing streak from Sept. 30 through Oct. 28. The Gamecocks then turned around and won three straight heading into the Palmetto Bowl to keep bowl hopes alive, but Clemson won another game in Columbia on Saturday, 16-7.
Defense was an issue for South Carolina this season. The Gamecocks allowed 395.7 yards per game, which was the third-most in the SEC this year.
Scoring was also a problem as South Carolina finished 12th in the league in points per game (26 points).
It was a disappointing year for South Carolina football after how last season ended. Here’s a stock report now that the regular season has wrapped up:
Most Improved: Xavier Legette
What a difference a year makes. Xavier Legette went from finishing last year with under 200 yards receiving to leading the team with 1,255 yards receiving this season.
South Carolina needed someone to step up in the receiving corps after Juice Wells dealt with injuries all season and Legette stepped up the plate. Wells played in 3 games during the regular season.
Legette may have earned himself a trip to the NFL next year if he wants it.
Biggest Surprise: Beamer’s 1st season without a bowl
After the returning talent that South Carolina brought back from a year ago the floor for this team should have been a bowl game at the least.
The Gamecocks went from losing a tight game with Notre Dame to a 5-7 finish in 2023. Beamer took South Carolina to the Duke’s Mayo Bowl in 2021 and the Gator Bowl last year.
Spencer Rattler even had a better season than last year statistically, but it wasn’t enough to get South Carolina to at least 6 wins.
This was a season that Gamecock fans will try to forget.
In a must-win game in front of a hostile crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium, South Carolina showed up and beat Kentucky 17-14 to keep its bowl hopes alive.
It didn’t matter in the end, but beating a bowl team is never a bad thing. Rattler made the plays he needed to keep South Carolina in the game, and it paid off.
South Carolina took the lead in the 4th quarter and the defense sealed the win after Kentucky was stopped on downs.
If only the team had looked like this earlier in the season, the Gamecocks may not have been in the position they were in.
South Carolina had a few bad losses this season. There was Georgia, Tennessee, and Missouri, but the loss to Florida should be mentioned as well.
South Carolina had a 10-point lead with under 10 minutes in the 4th quarter. Florida then scored 2 touchdowns in the final 5 minutes of the game to pull off the heartbreaking comeback win.
Nearly everything that South Carolina needed to do to win happened. Rattler accounted for 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. The running game looked viable as inconsistent as it had been all year.
However, the defense couldn’t hold off Florida’s late-game heroics.
If South Carolina had just beaten Florida a bowl berth could have already been a reality. Now fans have to look at what could have been.
Play of the Year
There were some great plays for South Carolina this season even though the year didn’t turn out like they hoped.
The special teams touchdown against Vanderbilt was a great one because of Beamer’s past as a coach of that position group, but Legette’s blazing touchdown against Mississippi State should take the cake.
Legette showed off his speed multiple times this season. One of the better plays in his highlight reel for this year had to be the 76-yard TD against Mississippi State.
College Football’s Fastest Five of the Week:
— Reel Analytics (@RAanalytics) September 25, 2023
Legette caught a short pass with a little bit of space and outrun multiple Bulldog defenders on his way to the endzone for South Carolina’s 1st touchdown of the game. He clocked in at 22.3 miles per hour as he sped away for the touchdown, which was the fastest speed for Week 4.
South Carolina ended up winning that game 37-30 over the Bulldogs.