South Carolina football: will the offense be better or worse in 2021?

South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Luke Doty (4). Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Luke Doty (4). Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports /
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Can South Carolina football move the chains next year?

The South Carolina offense under Will Muschamp was horrendous, a large shift from what Gamecock fans experienced with Steve Spurrier at the helm. In Muschamp’s five seasons, the team finished 99th or worse in total scoring four times, with the offense mustering an average of just 23.5 points per contest over his tenure.

Head coach Shane Beamer is now trying to lead an offensive resurgence in his inaugural season, but will the Gamecocks take a step forward under a new staff?

Let’s take a look at where things stood at the end of last season.

  • Pass offense: 187.2 (13th in SEC)
  • Rush offense: 167.9 ypg (7th in SEC)
  • Total offense: 355.1 ypg (10th in SEC)

Will the Gamecocks improve upon those numbers in 2021? We’re going to break down what the team has returning this year, see some of its new additions, and take our best guess at projecting the unit’s performance in the upcoming season.

PASS OFFENSE – No change

The Gamecocks averaged less than 200 yards per game through the air with Collin Hill under center. Hill actually started the season hot, as he averaged 233 yards per game in his first three starts, tossing three scores to just one interception (which was the result of a dropped pass by a Carolina receiver).

Unfortunately, it came unglued shortly thereafter. Over Hill’s next five starts, he’d fail to top 150 passing yards on three occasions, throwing five picks and completing just 55% of his attempts. Luke Doty came in to replace him for the final three contests, but the freshman struggled to get things going in the passing attack. The result was one of the conference’s worst passing outputs.

Doty is back for year two in the offense, but the wideout group is still largely unproven. Shi Smith is off to the NFL, and the top two returning pass catchers are tight end Nick Muse and running back Kevin Harris. Doty’s strength is his ability to create with his legs, as opposed to his arm. The Gamecocks will certainly try to capitalize on his athleticism, but he may be most effective in run or scramble situations.

With little to no production coming back at wide receiver, and a young signal caller under center, it may be difficult once again for the Gamecocks to eclipse the 200 yard per game mark in 2021.