South Carolina Football Offseason Autopsy: Part 1, Grading the offense

South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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South Carolina Football
Both Vershon Lee and Jakai Moore started at multiple positions (and missed multiple games) for the South Carolina football team this season. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

South Carolina Football Offseason Autopsy:
Grading the Offensive Coaching

C-. The South Carolina football staff could be in for some turnover this offseason. On offense, the only position groups that didn’t struggle were quarterback and tight end. This is not to say that the entire offensive staff needs to be relieved of their duties, but a change or two could be in order. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains struggled at times as a play caller but did a really nice job at coaching Spencer Rattler as a quarterbacks coach. Jody Wright appeared to do a good job with the tight ends aside from not demanding Josh Simon touch the ball more often. Justin Stepp has a proven track record as a wide receivers coach even if his unit struggled this season. Lonnie Teasley was in his first year coaching an injured offensive line group. Montario Hardesty had an underperforming group for the third straight season.. Offense. South Carolina Gamecocks. OFFENSIVE COACHES

The offensive assistant coaches presided over inconsistent units in 2023.

New OL coach Lonnie Teasley’s group was decimated by injuries as preseason starting left tackle Jaylen Nichols missed the whole season, starting right tackle Cason Henry missed basically the whole year, and potential starter at guard Markee Anderson missed the year, as well. Versatile players with starting experience like Vershon Lee, Jakai Moore, and Trai Jones missed multiple games. Even players in the 2-deep like Ryan Brubaker, Jaxon Hughes, and Ni Mansell missed time.

The result was that the Gamecocks had to play two true freshmen for most of the season. Both players had some good moments but were not ready for full-time duty in the SEC. The lack of healthy bodies also meant that struggling players had to play even against severe mismatches.

The guys who played didn’t always look particularly well-coached, especially when presented with more exotic stunts and blitzes. Too often, the Gamecock offensive line left a player (or players) completely unblocked because they didn’t know what they were doing. To be fair, some of this was due to inexperience, but good coaching should be able to cover up experience a bit by preparing his players with basic-level readiness.

Wide receivers coach Justin Stepp’s group really struggled outside of breakout star Xavier Legette. 5-star athlete Nyck Harbor did not adapt well to his new position, struggling with drops, route-running, and the playbook. Ahmarean Brown was fine but had some drops of his own and missed some time with hamstring ailments. Players like O’Mega Blake, converted quarterback Luke Doty, and Tyshawn Russell were forced into bigger roles than they should have had, as well.

The Gamecock pass-catchers were among the SEC’s leaders in dropped passes, and no wide receiver other than Xavier Legette had more than 270 yards receiving on the season. Stepp has a proven track record with receivers, and he helped develop Legette, but 2023 was not a high-water mark.

The running back group, for the third straight year, didn’t perform up to expectations. Coach Montario Hardesty and the Carolina coaching staff decided that DK Joyner was the best man for the job this offseason, but the move to running back did not work out for #5. It took multiple weeks for the staff to give Mario Anderson a chance.

Anderson was a solid performer when he was running the ball with any sort of space, but the offensive line woes made things difficult most of the time. No back other than Anderson looked prepared to contribute much other than a couple of moments from veteran scatback Juju McDowell.

The tight end duo of Trey Knox and Josh Simon were good. Knox struggled as a blocker but excelled at finding open space in the defense’s coverage. Simon was a better blocker and a more athletic runner after the catch. Tight ends coach Jody Wright got good production from his unit.

The only knock on Wright this season came from personnel usage. Many USC fans are still wondering why Josh Simon wasn’t featured more often, and fellow transfer addition Nick Elksnis barely played at all, even when a blocking specialist tight end (which is what he is supposed to be) could have been very beneficial to a struggling offensive front.

Dowell Loggains and Spencer Rattler had a good connection this season as quarterback coach and quarterback. Rattler made better decisions with the football this year than he did last year, and Loggains was very receptive to the suggestions of his star quarterback. Where Loggains may have struggled as a play caller, he had a good year as a position coach.