The South Carolina football team is fast approaching its Garnet and Black spring game. With just over a week until the scrimmage on April 16, South Carolina’s offense is still experiencing some growing pains.
Head coach Shane Beamer broke down the team’s performance on the offensive side of the ball and highlighted areas he would like to see the team improve.
“Way too many turnovers offensively,” Beamer said at his weekly press conference. “We’ve got to get that corrected. Can’t win football games when you turn the ball over like we did last season.”
Beamer said he was displeased with these plays, saying some were attempts athletes at this level should know better than to make.
However, not all of the turnovers were the offense's fault. South Carolina’s defense led the SEC in takeaways last season for a reason. Beamer credited the entire defense for being in the right position to make the play.
"Offense and defense was going at it the whole day, and you know, it was 4th down, they had to get one yard and I was in the post," Graduate defensive back Devonni Reed said. "I saw that some of the D-line got penetration, which made the running back stop his feet and have to change directions, so I was able to slow down and get my reads — the rest is history from there."
Competing against a defense that found success last season could help the team develop. Beamer praised the defense's ability to make open-field tackles and said the offense needs to step up when attempting to break those tackles. These errors on offense did not discourage the team but instead provided motivation to keep working.
"When things were going bad nobody went to the sideline and dropped their heads and you know started talking negative," senior wide receiver Ahmarean Brown said. "We picked each other up."
Junior quarterback Spencer Rattler took snaps during the scrimmage. For the first time this season, he led the offense in a game-type situation.
Beamer said he did a good job of communicating with the coaching staff and commanding the huddle.
“I thought he was great, he didn’t look like a guy who was lost out there by any stretch of the imagination, certainly there's some plays he would like to have back, there's no doubt about it,” Beamer said. “I thought he did a good job of commanding the offense and operating.”
Junior quarterback Luke Doty also participated in the scrimmage. He and Rattler were off-limits for the defense, but Beamer said all other quarterbacks were fair game.
Usually, the quarterback will wear a green jersey, meaning the defense is not supposed to tackle them. Beamer let the less experienced players, such as freshman Braden Davis, go full-contact so they could understand what college football is really like, he said.
“Anytime I blow the whistle in practice, they don’t believe that they got tackled, they think that they made that guy miss or ran him over or whatnot, so they wanted to be (live),” Beamer said. “It was great for their development of just knowing that they can’t sit back in the pocket and pat the ball all day, when the pass rush is coming, they have to get rid of it.”
Beamer said the offensive line did well at protecting those in the backfield from getting hit too hard. He said the line has taken a step forward since last season.
“I like the offensive line group and the way they’re working. Those guys that have returned have continued to take steps. Eric Douglas and Jevon Gwen have been really, really steady,” Beamer said.
It’s not just the line’s responsibility to block at South Carolina. Beamer said he wants to see improvement in blocking from the wideouts and running backs. He emphasized how important perimeter blocking is to offensive success.
"At the end of the day man, whether that's using my speed or blocking, I mean I just want to use everything I got to help us be better," Brown said.
A few key players missed the scrimmage due to minor injuries. The wide receiver duo of senior Dakereon Joyner and sixth-year E.J Jenkins, and sophomore running back JuJu Mcdowell were some of the guys who missed the action.
The offensive performance in Saturday's scrimmage showed that adding new players did not automatically fix the team's weaknesses. Despite the errors, Beamer said the team was in a good place.
“I think every situation is different, but I think our offense is certainly — I don’t want to say ahead of schedule — but not disappointed,” Beamer said. “Eager to get in there and watch the tape and see where we can continue to improve.”