Going into the 2022 season, the Gamecocks' offense, led by veteran players, are looking to improve stability with the quarterback and add depth and experience at every position.
Members of the Gamecock football team were in Atlanta on Tuesday for SEC Media Days. Alongside head coach Shane Beamer were redshirt senior wide receiver Dakereon Joyner and redshirt senior offensive lineman Jovaughn Gwyn. Gwyn and Joyner will be major leaders of an offensive unit that is looking to further improve after some troubles in the 2021 campaign.
The Gamecocks often struggled offensively. They fell near the bottom of the NCAA FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) in a number of offensive stats, rank 104 out of 130 FBS teams in scoring offense and 111 of 130 in total offense.
A major source of the 2021 struggles came from the quarterback position which saw four different players get snaps as starters in 2021. Beamer said the biggest differences in the quarterbacks this year is their depth and experience.
“It’s a different quarterback room and we have a lot of work to do, but it certainly, as a coach, makes you feel better about the situation going into the season,” Beamer said.
Beamer specifically noted two players in the 2022 quarterback room, junior Luke Doty and redshirt junior Spencer Rattler.
Doty started his career at South Carolina during the 2020 COVID-19 season, playing eight games and starting two. He was set to be the starter last year before a foot injury forced the Gamecocks to sideline him for the first two games. When he eventually returned, Doty proved instrumental versus Troy, going 20 for 34 on passing attempts for 255 yards and a touchdown, leading the Gamecocks to a 23-14 victory.
However, against Vanderbilt, Doty was benched in favor of graduate assistant turned quarterback Zeb Noland who led a game-winning drive to defeat the Commodores. Doty underwent season-ending surgery the following week on his foot injury, which was reaggravated during his starts.
Rattler, one of the new quarterbacks to come during the offseason comes from Oklahoma, where he racked up 1,483 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions last season. However, halfway through the Sooners 2021 season, Rattler got pulled in week six while trailing Texas in favor of freshman quarterback Caleb Williams, who led the Sooners to a 55-48 victory and held onto the starting job the rest of the season.
This led to questions from many on how Rattler would fare under pressure at South Carolina. Beamer, who was on the Oklahoma coaching staff when Rattler inherited the starting job in 2020, said Rattler is resilient through the ups and the downs.
“He’s been through the fire before,” Beamer said. “I saw firsthand how he handled it when he was at Oklahoma and started out 0-2 (in Big XII play) … nobody is asking him to go out there and be Superman, just go be you.”
The 2021 season also saw the Gamecocks ranked 11 of 14 in the SEC in sacks allowed. Every starter on the offensive line will return in 2022.
“It was a pretty cool moment when Jovaughn Gwyn and the offensive line told me that they were coming back because they felt like they didn’t accomplish what they wanted to accomplish,” Beamer recounted. “When you return everyone on the offensive line like we did, I mean, that’s a great advantage for any program.”
As for skill positions, Beamer said he believes the Gamecocks have some special tight ends on the roster in Oklahoma graduate transfer Austin Stogner and junior Jaheim Bell, the second most reliable target for the Gamecocks last season. Bell returns to South Carolina after accumulating 497 yards off of 30 receptions and five touchdowns in 11 games.
Headlining the wide receiver room is the return of fifth-year Josh Vann, who was the top target for the Gamecocks a year ago. The addition of transfers in junior wide receivers Corey Rucker and Antwanne Wells Jr. adds depth to a position group that returns all of its starters.
“(Those are) two guys that are gonna help the receiver room tremendously ... two guys that has a lot of great attributes that’s gonna help us at wide receiver, having a lot of depth,” Joyner said. “I’m very excited to play with those guys.”
As for Joyner, he will have a large role to play on this year’s offense, with the ability to play wide receiver or quarterback on any given day. The reigning Duke’s Mayo Bowl MVP caught 24 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown this past season before completing 9-for-9 passes and a touchdown in the bowl game last season.
“I’m gonna play both positions evenly, because I’ve shown I can play both at a high level,” Joyner said. “My goal is to just go in and be available to every role that I’m asked to be.”
The Gamecocks are more experienced from the 2021 campaign, but the veterans don't want to dwell on the accomplishments of the previous year.
“It was last year, we’re going onto a new season.” Gwyn said. “We still have things to do. Yeah, we did good last year, but can we do better? Yes we can.”