The Daily Gamecock

Dowell Loggains confident in Spencer Rattler ahead of Tennessee: 'With him, you feel like Superman as a play caller'

<p>FILE — Redshirt senior quarterback Spencer Rattler runs the ball down the sideline against Mississippi State at Williams-Brice Stadium on Sept. 23, 2023. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 37-30.</p>
FILE — Redshirt senior quarterback Spencer Rattler runs the ball down the sideline against Mississippi State at Williams-Brice Stadium on Sept. 23, 2023. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 37-30.

First-year South Carolina offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is putting his faith in redshirt senior quarterback Spencer Rattler ahead of the team's game against No. 21 Tennessee on Saturday in Knoxville.   

"'To whom much is given, much is required.' And he's earned my trust," Loggains said. "Some days with him, you feel like Superman as a play caller. Call anything, he'll make it right. He's spaghetti sauce. He'll cover up anything. He just gets you out of bad plays. He can get you into good plays." 

Through the first four games of 2023, Rattler has thrown for 1,242 yards, seven touchdowns and just two interceptions. Loggains said Rattler's play through the first month of the season has made his adjustment to the coordinator role easier. 

"I can't speak enough about the first four weeks — what he's been for me and my confidence as a play caller, my confidence in this offense," Loggains said. 

Loggains said part of his confidence comes from Rattler's ability to get to his third or fourth progression on any play.

"He's starting to see things really well," Loggains said. "That's where the trust is built."

Rattler's success has coincided with a breakout stretch from fifth-year wide receiver Xavier Legette, who leads all of Division I FBS college football in receiving yards. The pair have connected for 556 yards and three touchdowns, including two 75-plus yard touchdowns last week against Mississippi State. 

Defensive coordinator Clayton White said playing against Rattler in fall camp also helped the Gamecocks' defense get ready for the season. Just this week, he said the speed Rattler and freshman backup quarterback LaNorris Sellers throw the ball is preparing White's unit for Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton. 

"I know y'all heard about us in the summer during training camp, the kind of summer he's been having," White said. "The speed of his ball, LaNorris throws a fast ball, so obviously we're going against a fast thrower, a high velocity football this weekend, and so that does help." 

According to Loggains, there are still ways Rattler can improve his play, despite his strong start to the season. Loggains said his quarterback needs to stay locked in and take each week one at a time. 

"I don't want to be super critical of him right now," Loggains said. "There is an urgency that we have as a coach to not let people relax, and I still think he can improve." 

This week's matchup with the Volunteers is a rematch of one of Rattler's strongest performances at South Carolina, when he passed for 438 yards and 6 touchdowns as the Gamecocks beat the then-No. 5 team in the country last year. 

However, South Carolina has yet to win away from home this year, losing to both No. 1 Georgia and No. 15 North Carolina. Tennessee's Neyland Stadium holds nearly 102,000 people, who can create a lot of noise that often leads to penalties, according to Loggains. 

The Gamecocks have struggled with penalties this season, committing 29 infractions in four games that have cost the team an average of more than 50 yards per game.

"There are too many pre-snap penalties," Loggains said. "That's something we need to continue to improve on, is playing clean football. We've taken a step in the right direction, and this week will be another huge test."