Clemson Football: Oppo Research – South Carolina Gamecocks
Another dominating performance a week ago as Clemson football got a nice victory against the pre-season media darlings, Miami Hurricanes 40-10. Turnovers were still an issue, but not enough to make a difference in the game.
Freshman QB Jacurri Brown could not get anything going offensively, and it wasn’t until Jake Garcia was installed into the role that Miami moved the ball somewhat.
A few hours after the game, this week’s opponent, the South Carolina Gamecocks, pulled off one of the season’s biggest upsets by beating Tennessee by 4 scores. A completely dominating performance that has their fanbase crowing that the game was the norm and not a complete outlier from the previous 10 weeks.
This week will be a challenge as UofSC has realized that they do have some athletes on the offensive side of the ball and used a lot of them a week ago. And they get leading rusher Marshawn Lloyd back this week (reportedly) as well.
Here is your preview of the South Carolina Gamecocks of Columbia, SC.
South Carolina Gamecocks – 11/26 Noon EST – Clemson, SC; Memorial Stadium
Head Coach Shane Beamer is in his second season as the head coach of the Gamecocks. A rather surprising hire, but a popular one in the Midlands. Beamer has adopted a Dabo Swinney-like approach to building a program, actually caring for his players, being transparent in his approach and quite honestly, just being a good guy. His record through two seasons is 14-10. Beamer, the son of famed Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, played for his dad at Virginia Tech and has had coaching stints at Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Mississippi State, South Carolina as an assistant, Georgia, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma.
Season At a Glance
South Carolina currently sits at 7-4 on the season in the “mighty” Southeastern Conference. Their 7 wins are against: Georgia State (35-14), Charlotte (56-20), SC State (50-10), Kentucky (24-14), Texas A&M (30-24), Vanderbilt (38-27) and Tennessee (63-38). The five defeats have come by way of: Arkansas (44-30), Georgia (48-7), Missouri (23-10), and Florida (38-6)
Offensive Coordinator Marcus Satterfield is in his second season in that role. He has been public enemy #1 of the fanbase when things are going wrong offensively. Satterfield has over 20 years of coaching experience, with stops at Chattanooga, Richmond, Tennessee, UT Martin, Western Carolina, Temple, Baylor, a stint in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers, and now South Carolina.
Here is a look at the projected starters on Offense (based on published depth charts) plus a couple of other notables to know:
QB: Spencer Rattler – Jr. – 210-314-2420 yds. 14 TDs, 9 Ints; 2 rushing TDs
RB: Marshawn Lloyd – So. – 100 att. 556 yds. 9 TDs
WR: Xavier Legette – Sr. – 11 rec. 89 yds, TD
WR: Ahmarean Brown – Sr. – 17 rec. 163 yds
WR: Jalen Brooks – Sr. – 30 rec. 471 yds. TD
WR: Josh Vann – Sr. – 16 rec. 240 yds. 3 TDs
WR: Antwane “Juice” Wells Jr. – Jr. – 54 rec. 767 yds 4 TDs
TE/Hybrid: Jaheim Bell – Jr. – 23 rec. 229 yds 2 TDs; 64 rush. 232 yds, 2 TDs
TE: Austin Stogner – Sr. – 19 rec. 205 yds, TD
LT: Jaylen Nichols – Sr.
LG: Trai Jones – So.
C: Eric Douglas – Sr.
RG: Jovaughn Gwyn – Sr.
RT: Dylan Wonnum – Sr.
Quarterback Spencer Rattler entered the game with Tennessee a week ago with 8 TD passes and 9 Interceptions. He finished with 14 TDs on the season and did not add to the interception total. He threw for 438 yards with 81% accuracy to go with those 6 touchdowns in clearly his best performance as a Gamecock. The highly recruited QB out of high school has struggled behind a mediocre offensive line and possible play-calling, but the arm talent is there for Rattler and he has the athletes at receiver as well. Inconsistent play led to his exit from Oklahoma, and continued for 10 of 11 games in the Midlands.
Don’t sleep on Super Senior Dakereon Joyner, who will play quarterback in a wildcat type of role, however the former Fort Dorchester High School quarterback can do a little bit of everything for the Cocks. He’s caught 5 passes, and rushed for 2 touchdowns as well. Listed as a wide receiver, who chose South Carolina over Clemson because Will Muschamp lied to him and said he would play quarterback exclusively as Clemson recruited him as a WR/DB.
Injuries have played a huge role in the running back room for the Cocks. Leading rusher Marshawn Lloyd showed glimpses of being a dominating back, however, he’s been on the shelf for the last couple of weeks. He will reportedly be back against the Tigers this weekend, and he brings 9 touchdowns to the running game. Hybrid, do-everything player Jaheim Bell is second on the team in rushing as he is their “swiss-army knife” where he does a little bit of everything for Beamer’s team. Juju McDowell is the change-of-pace back and Christian Beal-Smith, the Wake Forest transfer, can’t stay healthy enough to talk much about.
The WR room is the one that has athletes all over the roster. Whether it’s leading receiver Juice Wells, Josh Vann, Jalen Brooks or even Jaheim Bell, this is clearly the best group on the team. Wells has the most catches with 54, 24 clear of the next receiver (Brooks), however the second-tier group has caught a bunch of passes (171 between the remaining group).
The offensive line was really good against Tennessee a week ago. However, the larger sample size would show that this is a group that has had Rattler scrambling for his life for most of the season, having been sacked 24 times in the previous 10 games.
Offense by the Numbers
The offense has scored 349 points over 11 games for an average of 31.7 points per game. South Carolina has gained 4,158 total offensive yards on the season with 1,425 coming on the ground and 2,733 through the air; for averages of 129.5 rushing and 248.4 passing for a total of 377.9 yards of total offense per game.
Onto the defensive side of the ball: Defensive Coordinator Clayton White is in his second year at South Carolina. The former NC State and NFL linebacker and special teamer has nearly 20 years of coaching experience. His scheme is rather multiple, however the 4-2-5 is his most common tendency since arriving in Columbia. His defense was ranked 46th in the nation in his first year in Columbia. White has had previous coaching stops at Western Carolina, Western Michigan, Stanford, Western Kentucky and NC State.
Here is a look at the projected starters (and a couple other names to know) for the defense:
Edge: Jordan Burch – Jr. – 53 tackles, 3.5 sacks
DT: Zacch Pickens – Sr. – 39 tackles, 1.5 sacks
DT: Tonka Hemingway – Jr. – 27 tackles, 4 sacks
Edge: Gilber Edmond – So. – 34 tackles, 2 sacks
MLB: Sherron Greene – Sr. – 60 tackles, 1.5 sacks, Int
WLB: Brad Johnson – Sr. – 36 tackles, Int
NB: Cam Smith – Jr. – 26 tackles, Int
NB: DQ Smith – Fr. – 47 tackles, Int
CB: Marcellas Dial – Jr. – 39 tackles, 2 Ints
CB: Darius Rush – Sr. – 35 tackles, 2 Ints
SS: Nick Emmanwori – Fr. – 72 tackles,
FS: Devonni Reed – Sr. – 39 tackles
This defensive front is really good. Led by Jordan Burch and Zacch Pickens, two highly recruited in-state talents that spurned the Tigers in their respective recruiting cycles. Burch is third on the team in tackles, and Pickens is a load on the interior. Tonka Hemingway is the leader in sacks with 4. While the line has some talent, their sack number totals are not all that impressive (17 total on the season), however they do have 52 tackles for loss. They are disruptive even without getting to the QB much.
At the linebacking position, South Carolina has been trying to find their way. Led by two seniors, Sherron Greene and Brad Johnson. Greene is second on the team in tackles with 60. Reserve Debo Williams makes his presence felt when he enters the game with 41 tackles including 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks on the season. Just a sophomore, Williams will see a lot of time on the field on Saturday.
The secondary has a bunch of guys that have talent. The outspoken Cam Smith is the leader on the back end. The two corners Marcellas Dial and Darius Rush lead the team in interceptions, tied with 2 each. Freshman Strong Safety Nick Emmanwori is the leader on the team with 72 tackles including 54 solo. The hard-hitting freshman is someone to watch, especially in coverage of the tight ends of Clemson. DQ Smith is another name to watch, and he is also a Freshman logging a ton of minutes.
Defense by the Numbers
South Carolina, defensively, has yielded 300 points this season for an average of 27.3 points per game. They’ve allowed 2,072 yards on the ground for an average of 188.4 yards per game and 2,295 yards through the air for an average of 208.6. The total defense average yards given up is 397 yards per game.
South Carolina has 17 takeaways on the season with 11 interceptions and 6 fumble recoveries. The opponents have 23 takeaways with 11 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries against the Gamecocks. South Carolina is minus-6 in the turnover margin on the season.
Here are the projected starters on Special Teams:
Punter: Kai Kroeger – Jr. – 45.8 yd. Avg.; long of 79 yds.
Kicker: Mitch Jeter – Jr. – 9-9; long of 53 yds.
Kick Returner: Xavier Legette – Sr. – 31.5 yd avg. TD
Punt Returner: Josh Vann – Sr. – 15.1 yd. avg.
Last week was a nice win for the Tigers as the game was never in doubt. The three turnovers is concerning, as turnovers have been a big theme late in the season. South Carolina is advantageous on defense, and has the athletes that will take chances to make a play. The way their offense played last week, turnovers will have to be held in check to be successful this weekend.
The Gamecocks have hit the transfer portal hard in the off-season, and really have not reaped the benefits, as Quarterback Spencer Rattler has not been good for the majority of the season. Running back Christian Beal-Smith has been oft-injured and TE Austin Stogner has been used more as a blocker than the pass-catcher that he was in Norman, Oklahoma.
There have been a couple of bright spots from the portal, as James Madison transfer Antwane “Juice” Wells is the leader in receptions, and safety Devonni Reed, a Central Michigan transfer is 6th on the team in tackles.
South Carolina is coming into Death Valley as a confident group. They just put up 63 points against the previously 5th-ranked Tennessee team and scored touchdowns on 9 of their 10 possessions. But do not forget about the other 10 games of the season where their wins were against FCS and Group of 5 opponents, as well as Kentucky without their starting quarterback, and the dumpster fire that is Texas A&M. The best win before Tennessee is probably Vanderbilt.
Don’t forget the first ten games in analyzing the Gamecocks. That’s all I’ll say.