Grading the Gamecocks at the half-way point for the 2021 football season
Oct. 13, 2021
Hard to believe we are all ready at the half way point, so what have the Gamecocks shown so far and their grade. Gamecocks are currently sitting at 3-3 overall and 0-3 in Southeastern Conference play heading into a fury of top notch competition which includes Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M and Clemson. Let's grade the team on how they performed:
The Gamecock defense is the pride and joy even with bad half vs Tennessee and so so showing against No1 Georgia through six games. The Gamecocks have bent some, but not have broken for the most part. South Carolina was torched for almost 400 yards in the opening 30 minutes in Knoxville, but after that the Gamecocks only allowed 99 yards including nine yards passing in the second half. The Gamecocks defensive line has been as brilliant at times, disrupting opponents’ offensive lines on a consistent basis. Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare still has the looks of a first-round NFL pick come this spring NFL draft, and those around him are helping to create havoc on just about every play.
Jaylan Foster came out from nowhere to stardom this season. Foster started his career at Gardner-Webb and had been a regular on scout team duties the past few years. Halfway through 2021, he has the looks of a first team All-American as he’s tied for the FBS lead in interceptions and has 14 more tackles than anyone on the Gamecocks roster.
The Gamecocks have not been perfect defensively. There’s still some areas of concern like against the run, and linebacker depth is a question mark especially after Sherrod Greene went down at Georgia. White’s unit has done just about everything it could’ve been asked for and then some to keep the Gamecocks above water
The Gamecock offense only spotlight was game one, Gamecocks won in a route 46-0 over Eastern Illinois. EIU hasn’t won more than three games since 2017 in the FCS, QB Zeb Noland held down the number one spot until the 2nd quarter of the Georgia game forcing Luke Doty’s recovering from a foot injury to take over since the Georgia game.
Now there are far more questions than answers on the offensive side of things. Gamecocks currently ranks No. 11 in rushing offense, No. 12 in passing offense and No. 13 in scoring offense and total offense in the SEC. On the positive side, Doty continues to improve as a passer and looks the part of a player who could hold down the position in Columbia for the next three or four years.
Took six games for RB Kevin Harris last Saturday against Tennessee to look like he did in 2020 when he led the SEC in rushing a season ago. That being said, the Gamecocks have been in turmoil on the offensive line and OC Marcus Satterfield has come under fire for some of his play-calling decisions. We all new It would take time to install a new system. Beamer, Satterfield and Doty have pleaded patience in getting things rolling. The Gamecocks have not scored more than 25 points against FBS competition this year. With the meat of the schedule here will have to improve the point output fast.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A+
The Gamecocks have been sharp as can be on special teams. Kicker Parker White is still a perfect 9 for 9 on field goal attempts this season and he’s continuing to creep closer to the Gamecocks all-time scoring record.
Punter Kai Kroeger against Tennessee Showed off his leg and arm on Saturday when he connected with Payton Mangrum for a 44-yard touchdown pass on a fake punt that kept the Gamecocks in it against Tennessee despite falling well behind early. Kroeger who holds White’s kicks in addition to punting duties has also been a nice tool in flipping field position with an average of 2.3 punts inside the 20-yard line per game and at least 1.1 kicks of more than 50 yards per contest. Throw in running back Juju McDowell, who’s been electric in the kickoff return game, and this group has been stellar under special teams coordinator Pete Lembo’s guidance.
first-year staff blues for a first time head coach
There are some positive take a way's at the half way mark. DC Clayton White has done a lot with the defense one area that has stood out. The Gamecocks play calling on offense has had some puzzling decisions. The Gamecocks have certainly been aggressive in attacking fourth downs they rank second in the SEC and tied for 16th nationally with 14 fourth-down attempts. But a lack of sharpness offensively coupled with an offensive line that hasn’t quite held up like we thought it might drags this grade down. South Carolina has had moments of excellence. Its also had mind-blowing decision-making. (The non-onside kick trailing Kentucky by a score with two timeouts and under three minutes left comes to mind.) Remember, this is still Beamer’s first head coaching job and there’s a grace period to be had there.
Really closer to a D with questionable coaching and offense play
AVERAGE GRADE: C-