The Shane Beamer Era at the University of South Carolina begins as the Gamecocks (0-0, 0-0 SEC) host the FCS-level Eastern Illinois Panthers (0-1, 0-0 OVC) on Saturday, Sept. 4. Game time is set for 7 pm and the contest will be streamed live on ESPN+ and SECN+.
OVER THE AIRWAVES: Bill Roth, the longtime play-by-play voice of the Virginia Tech Hokies will call the action for the livestream. He will be joined in the booth by former Florida Gator standout Chris Doering. Alex Chappell will patrol the sidelines. The familiar voices of Carolina Hall of Famers Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs handle the call for the Gamecock Radio Network with Jamar Nesbit on the sidelines.
AND WE'RE OFF: 2021 marks the 128th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 115th-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina owns an all-time record of 614-595-44, a .508 winning percentage.
IT JUST MEANS MORE: The 2020 season marks South Carolina's 30th year in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned the SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season. The Gamecocks are 99-134-1 (.425) all-time in SEC regular-season play.
2020 IN REVIEW: South Carolina concluded its 127th season of intercollegiate football in 2020 with a record of 2-8, in a scheduled that included only SEC contests due to COVID-19. The highlight of the season was a 30-22 win over No.15/14 Auburn on Oct. 17. Three of the Gamecocks' eight losses were to teams that finished the season in the top-15 in the A.P.'s final poll, including No. 4 Texas A&M, No. 7 Georgia and No. 13 Florida. Carolina running back Kevin Harris led the SEC in rushing at 113.8 yards per game. Harris and defensive end Kingsley Enagbare earned first-team All-SEC honors, while cornerback Jaycee Horn was a second-team pick. Linebacker Mohamed Kaba and punter Kai Kroeger were named to the SEC Coaches' All-Freshman Team.
NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: On Dec. 6, 2020, Athletics Director Ray Tanner announced the hiring of Shane Beamer as the 36th head football coach in Carolina history. Beamer, who served on Steve Spurrier's staff in Columbia from 2007-10, most recently was the assistant head coach for offense, tight ends and H-backs coach at the University of Oklahoma. This marks Coach Beamer's first head coaching assignment. He has been an assistant coach at seven FBS schools for 21 seasons. During his career, he has coached in 17 bowl games, including a College Football Playoff National Championship Game, has posted 18 non-losing seasons, six of those with double-digit victories, and his teams have won 62.9 percent of its games. He is the son of Hall of Fame coach Frank Beamer.
THAT'S A RECORD: South Carolina fans have responded to Coach Shane Beamer's energy and positivity by setting a school record of 8,699 new football season tickets sold. The previous record for new season ticket sales in one season was 8,323 in 2019. Total season tickets sold for the 2021 campaign are approaching 40,000.
THE ASSISTANT COACHES: Nine of the 10 on-field assistant coaches are first-time members of the South Carolina Football staff. On the offensive side of the ball, Coach Beamer selected Marcus Satterfield to serve as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Greg Adkins is the offensive line coach, Montario Hardesty in the running back coach, Erik Kimrey serves as the tight ends coach and Justin Stepp oversees the wide receivers. On the defensive side of the ball, Clayton White takes over as the defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach. He is assisted by defensive line coach Jimmy Lindsey and defensive backs coach Torrian Gray. Mike Peterson is the lone holder from the previous staff. He is in charge of the outside linebackers and defensive ends. In addition, Pete Lembo was hired as associate head coach/special teams coordinator.
THEY DO THE HEAVY LIFTING: The entire strength and conditioning staff was overhauled for a second-straight year, with Luke Day now in charge. Joining Day on his staff are Byron Jerideau, Chip Morton, Mitch Okey and Nate Sedergren.
FOR OPENERS: Through 127 years of intercollegiate football, the Gamecocks have compiled an 84-39-4 record in season openers, a winning percentage of .677. In the 95 seasons in which the Gamecocks have opened at home, the record is a very impressive 71-20-4. That translates into a .768 winning mark. In 28 seasons in which the Gamecocks have opened on the road, they are 10-18 for a .357
CAROLINA VS. EASTERN ILLINOIS: This is the first time that South Carolina and Eastern Illinois have met on the gridiron.
GAMECOCKS VS. THE OVC: This week's game against Eastern Illinois marks the Gamecocks first-ever versus a team from the Ohio Valley Conference. The schools that make up the seven-team OVC include Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois, Murray State, Southeast Missouri State, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and UT-Martin.
THE HEAD COACH: Panther head coach Adam Cushing is in his third season in Charleston. The 2002 University of Chicago grad has compiled a 2-17 mark.
ONE UNDER THEIR BELT: Eastern Illinois opened the 2021 season last Saturday at Indiana State, dropping a 26-21 decision. Otto Kuhns completed 14-of-29 passes for 253 yards, but was picked off twice and was sacked five times. Tyler Ringwood caught five passes for 116 yards.
SPRING FEVER: Eastern Illinois did not compete in the fall of 2020, but rather played in the spring of 2021. The Panthers posted a 1-5 mark, with the lone winning coming against Tennessee Tech by a 28-20 score. Losses came to #21 Southeast Missouri (47-7), at UT Martin (28-15), at Tennessee State (21-20), at #17 Murray State (41-27) and vs #12 Jacksonville State (44-23).
NOT THE FIRST TIME: Eastern Illinois is no stranger to playing road games against FBS opponents. They most recently traveled to Indiana in 2019 and dropped a 52-0 decision. The last time they met an SEC school was in 2018 when they fell at Arkansas by a 55-20 count. Their last win over an FBS opponent came in the 2016 season, a 21-17 win over Miami (Ohio).
17 AND 18 AREN'T WALKING THRU THAT DOOR: In 2009 EIU retired its first football number with the No. 17 formerly worn by Tony Romo being retired at homecoming against Tennessee Tech. In 2010 Sean Payton's No. 18 was retired during the season opening contest against Central Arkansas.
TOP CROWDS: Eastern Illinois has played in front of 60,000 or more fans four times in its history. Here are the top-10 crowds to watch Panther Football:
1. Oct. 10, 2009........ at Penn State........ 104,488
2. Sept. 4, 2010........ at Iowa.................... 70,585
3. Sept. 1, 2018........ at Arkansas.............. 63,342
4. Sept. 6, 2008........ at Illinois ................. 60,131
5. Sept. 10, 2005...... at BYU...................... 52,630
6. Sept. 8, 2007 ....... at Purdue ................ 52,504
7. Sept. 13, 2003...... at Missouri.............. 49,440
8. Sept. 14, 2002...... at Kansas State....... 45,642
9. Sept. 2, 2006........ at Illinois.................. 45,555
10. Aug. 28, 2014....... at Minnesota.......... 44,344
NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS: The Gamecocks are 32-11 in their last 43 non-conference games, with six of the 11 losses in that stretch coming against Clemson.
THE POWER OF FIVE: Since the turn of the century, the Gamecocks have a 46-4 mark against teams not currently in a Power-5 conference. The only four losses in that stretch came to UConn in the 2010 Papajohns.com Bowl, to The Citadel in 2015, to South Florida in the 2016 Birmingham Bowl and to Appalachian State in 2019. It should be noted that UConn was in the Big East, which was a BCS automatic qualifier during the 2009 season.
PROTECT THIS HOUSE: Carolina has won 31 of its last 36 home games against non-conference foes. The Gamecocks had won a school-record 22-straight home wins against non-conference opponents from 2008 to 2015 before dropping the final two games of the 2015 regular season to The Citadel and Clemson.
THEY'RE BACK: The Gamecocks have 49 returning letterwinners to open the 2021 fall season. The lettermen consist of 22 offensive players, 23 on defense and four special teams players.
RETURNING STARTERS: The Gamecocks list 14 returning starters from the 2020 squad, seven on offense, five on defense and both specialists. The returning offensive starters are OC Eric Douglas, RG Jovaughn Gwyn, RB Kevin Harris, WR Xavier Legette, LT Jakai Moore, TE Nick Muse and RT Dylan Wonnum. The returning defensive starters are DT Jabari Ellis, DE Kingsley Enagbare, DT Zacch Pickens, S RJ. Roderick and LB Damani Staley. The specialists are P Kai Kroeger and PK Parker White.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: The Gamecocks said good-bye to 20 letterwinners including 10 starters off last year's team, four on offense and six on defense. The departed starters include QB Collin Hill, LG Sadarius Hutcherson, FB Adam Prentice, and WR Shi Smith on the offensive side of the ball, and CB John Dixon, CB Jaycee Horn, LB Ernest Jones, DB Israel Mukuamu, N Jammie Robinson and DE Keir Thomas on defense.
EVERY TIME OUT: The Gamecocks had seven players start all 10 games in 2020 including OC Eric Douglas, G Jovaughn Gwyn, RB Kevin Harris, LG Sadarius Hutcherson, TE Nick Muse, RT Dylan Wonnum and N Jammie Robinson. Gwyn (21-consecutive starts), Wonnum (13), Douglas (10), Harris (10) and Muse (10) return in 2021.
IT'S A NUMBERS GAME: Carolina returns 86 percent of its rushing yards, 23 percent of its passing yards and 60 percent of its receiving yards from 2019. Kevin Harris (1,139 yards) and Rashad Amos (99 yards) are the top returning rushers, while Nick Muse (425 yards) and Kevin Harris (159 yards) are the top returning receivers. The Gamecocks top returning passer is Luke Doty (405 yards). Three of the squad's top eight tacklers return for the 2021 season, including Damani Staley (51 tackles), Jaylan Foster (43) and Zacch Pickens (35 tackles). Kingsley Enagbare returns after leading the team in tackles for loss (7.0) and sacks (6.0), while Cam Smith was one of three Gamecocks to log two interceptions.
SUPER SENIORS: The Gamecocks list eight players whose eligibility would have expired had not the NCAA allowed the 2020 season to be a "free" year. Those "super" seniors are LB Spencer Eason-Riddle, DT Jabari Ellis, DB Jaylan Foster, TE Nick Muse, QB Zeb Noland, LB Damani Staley, EDGE Aaron Sterling and PK Parker White.
ONE FOR THE THUMB: With the NCAA rule allowing for an extra year, three Gamecocks - LB Damani Staley, EDGE Aaron Sterling and PK Parker White - can become the first players in school history to letter five times in their career.
UTILIZING THE PORTAL: The Gamecocks' roster features 10 scholarship transfers, including seven who enrolled at Carolina in January. The list includes WR Ahmarean Brown (Georgia Tech), QB Jason Brown (St. Francis, Pa.), DT Keem Green (Nebraska), WR E.J. Jenkins (St. Francis, Pa.), DB David Spaulding (Georgia Southern), EDGE Jordan Strachan (Georgia State) and LB Debo Williams (Delaware). QB Zeb Noland (North Dakota State), DB Carlins Platel(Assumption) and DB Tyrese Ross (Washington State) joined the roster in the fall.
I FEEL A DRAFT: The Gamecocks had four players from the 2020 team selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. Cornerback Jaycee Horn was the first defensive player off the board and the eighth pick overall, going to the Carolina Panthers. Linebacker Ernest Jones was a third-round selection by the Los Angeles Rams. Wide receiver Shi Smith (Carolina) and Defensive back Israel Mukuamu (Dallas) were sixth-round selections.
MORE DRAFT NEWS: Jaycee Horn was selected by Carolina with the eighth pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. Horn became the Gamecocks' 15th first-round NFL draft pick and the 10th since 2000. The Gamecocks have produced a selection in 19 of the last 20 NFL Drafts.
COACH SPEAK: The SEC Coaches tabbed EDGE Kingsley Enagbare to their preseason All-SEC first-team unit. RB Kevin Harris was a second-team selection, while TE Nick Muse and DL Zacch Pickens were selected to the preseason third-team unit by the league's 14 coaches.
WEARING THE PATCH: Nineteen Gamecocks, have their undergraduate degrees in hand. The list includes: Wyatt Campbell, Devontae Davis, Eric Douglas, Jabari Ellis, Kingsley Enagbare, Jaylan Foster, Spencer Eason-Riddle, Sherrod Greene, Tyreek Johnson, Hank Manos, Sean McGonigal, Zeb, Noland, Carlins Platel, Darius Rush, Or'Tre Smith, Damani Staley, M.J. Webb, Parker White and Dylan Wonnum. Eason-Riddle has both a bachelor's and master's degree.
NFL TIES: Dylan Wonnum is the younger brother of former Gamecock, D.J. Wonnum, who is with the Minnesota Vikings. Nick Muse's older brother, Tanner, is a member of the Las Vegas Raiders.
COLOR WHEEL: They play for the Garnet & Black, but the Gamecocks have three Browns (Ahmarean, Jahmar and Jason), two Green(e)s (Keem and Sherrod), and two Whites (Parker and ZaQuandre, along with defensive coordinator Clayton), on the roster.
WELCOME TO THE COCKPIT: The University of South Carolina Athletics Department is excited to announce a new brand identity for its official student section across all sports, The Cockpit. Through their dedication, support and energy, South Carolina students have shown that they're the best student fans in all of college athletics. Through The Cockpit, all Carolina students will be able to unite together under one identity to bring their passion to a new level while they're supporting the Gamecocks across all sports.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks will travel to Greenville, N.C. next Saturday for a noon contest with the East Carolina Pirates. The game will be televised on ESPN2. South Carolina has won the last four games to take a 14-5 lead in the all-time series. This will be their first trip to Greenville since the 1997 season, a 26-0 Gamecock win.
There has been a lot of changes and upgrades to Willy-B since the end of the 2019 season as well as game day operational changes due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gamecock fans will be able to enjoy a new $2.4 million videoboard installed by ANC, a leading sports marketing and signage company. The new board will be nearly twice as sharp than the previous board.
In place last season were club seating throughout Williams-Brice Stadium. These include the 2001 Club (southwest corner), Cockaboose Club (south endzone), Traditions Club (400 level) and the Horseshoe Club (100 level).
Pregame activities, including tailgating, will continue to be a part of game day. These include Gamecock Walk, which will have wider walk through for the student-athletes, coaches and staff, and live music at Gamecock Village, starting at 3 pm for the Eastern Illinois game. Rally towels will be distributed around Williams-Brice Stadium for free while supplied last. These will also be available for purchase at all physical concession stands.
As you plan your Gamecock game day, please be aware of the following security, health-related changes:
- New for the 2021 season, all fans will be required to go through a security screening before entering Williams-Brice Stadium. Fans do not need to remove any items from their pockets or bags and will be instructed to move through the metal detectors in a timely fashion. Fans with bags will continue through the security screening and proceed to the closest bag check area. Printed and digital tickets will be scanned at the gate entrance.
- The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), a Gamecock sponsor, is offering free COVID-19 vaccinations in Gamecock Village prior to each home football game. For the Eastern Illinois game, the time period is from 2:30 pm until 6:30 pm.
- Face coverings are strongly encouraged for all indoor and enclosed areas of the stadium unless eating or drinking. The CDC states that, to maximize protection from the Delta Variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, everyone should wear a mask indoors in public, even if you are fully vaccinated. Hand sanitizers will be available throughout the stadium for use. Please frequently wash and sanitize your hands. Event staff on the field, serving food and working in indoor/enclosed spaces at Williams-Brice Stadium will be wearing masks.
Williams-Brice will be operating under a heat management plan for the first part of the 2021 home schedule. This plan includes the following:
- Water Bottles: Fans are permitted to bring one (1) empty, clear bottle of water OR one (1) sealed bottle of water into the stadium. This policy will allow fans to stay hydrated on their walk to Williams-Brice Stadium and refill their bottle upon entering the stadium. All glass bottles are still strictly prohibited in Williams-Brice Stadium.
- Water Refills: South Carolina once again offers bottle filling stations at locations throughout the stadium. These bottle filling stations are located near existing water fountains.
- Water Fountains: The usage of traditional water fountains or other self-service drinking stations will be prohibited. This does not apply to apparatuses that use touchless technology.
- Water Monsters: Water Monsters will be available throughout Williams-Brice Stadium. Fans can fill their water bottles and cups free at any water monster location.
Concessions and merchandising locations in Williams-Brice Stadium will no longer accept cash and only debit or credit cards. Information on concessions, merchandising and contactless payments includes:
- Reverse ATM's can be found on West Main, West Upper, East Ground, and East Upper. Simply exchange your cash for a debit card at any Reverse ATM location throughout Williams-Brice Stadium.
- Beer and wine will be sold throughout Williams-Brice Stadium. Patrons purchasing beer or wine will be carded at the point of sale and will be limited to two beverages per sale. Per SEC Regulation, beer and wine sales at Williams-Brice Stadium will end at the end of third quarter.
- In addition to the merchandise location in the Bignon Gameday Building, Williams-Brice Stadium offers two merchandise locations on gameday. Merchandise locations in Williams-Brice Stadium can be located on West Lower by the Letterman's Lounge and East Ground by the picnic tables.