South Carolina football begins its season this Saturday with a 7 PM matchup against Eastern Illinois in Williams-Brice Stadium. The contest will kick off the Gamecocks’ first season under new head coach Shane Beamer, who replaces Will Muschamp on the sidelines.
Expectations aren’t extremely high in Columbia, with most outsiders believing it will be tough for the Gamecocks to reach .500 and a bowl game. South Carolina has won just six times in its last 22 tries, and they’ll face yet another tough slate in 2021. Vegas has placed the team’s win total at just 3.5 for the season.
While the results on the field haven’t been up to par over the last few years, the new coaching staff believes that there is enough talent on the field to compete in the SEC. The Gamecocks have a number of players that were underutilized by the previous staff, and coach Beamer is hoping they’ll see an uptick in production under new leadership.
South Carolina brings back the SEC’s leading rusher from 2020, a potential first-round draft pick at defensive end, a host of new transfers, and the program’s second-leading scorer at kicker. There are still question marks at a number of spots, though, most notably quarterback. Projected starter Luke Doty was injured in August, making his status for the season opener uncertain.
As a result, the Gamecocks brought in graduate assistant Zeb Noland to lead the QB room. Noland was in a stiff competition with freshman Colten Gauthier and transfer Jason Brown, but ultimately earned the chance to start game one.
Who Noland will be throwing to is also a concern, though incoming transfers EJ Jenkins and Ahmarean Brown could help shoulder the load. Tight ends Nick Muse and Jaheim Bell are also expected to make significant impacts.
On defense, the Gamecocks will look to utilize a deep and talented defensive line to increase its sack totals in the upcoming campaign. Hopefully that pass rush can help mask some deficiencies at linebacker and in the secondary.
All in all, South Carolina should be a middle of the road team. We’re not necessarily judging Shane Beamer by wins and losses in year one, but we’ll take our best stab at predicting the Gamecocks’ final record when the 2021 season comes to an end.
Let’s start with this weekend’s matchup with Eastern Illinois.