By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — My how a year can change so much in college football.
Last year at this time many had Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler the favorite for the Heisman Trophy and a future standout in the NFL. South Carolina was completely unsettled at quarterback enter Shane Beamer’s first year as head coach. Rattler got beat out at OU and replaced by Caleb Williams after a slow start to his season and Beamer saw his team use four quarterbacks due to injuries.
Fast forward to the 2022 SEC Media Days. Rattler is at South Carolina and no longer is the quarterback position a question mark. Beamer, Rattler and the Gamecocks will head to Fayetteville Sept. 10 to face the Razorbacks. Beamer was asked about the quarterback situation now compared to this time last season?
‘When I sat up here last year, I certainly didn’t anticipate a month later having our graduate assistant be our starting quarterback,” Beamer said. “I certainly didn’t envision starting four different quarterbacks throughout the season like we did last year because of injuries. It certainly makes a difference. If anything, it’s the experience and the depth that we now have in that room compared to last year.
“Going into last season, Luke Doty was our starting quarterback, and he’d only been on campus for a year. I think he started three games in 2020. He didn’t have a lot of experience. Now you’ve got a guy
like Spencer that’s played a lot of football, has won a conference championship at Oklahoma. And then you add guys like Luke who are a year older along with some impact freshmen that we’ve brought in. It’s a different quarterback room. Certainly we have a lot of work to do, but certainly as a coach it makes you feel
better about the situation going into the season.”
At OU last season, Rattler completed 140 of 187 passes for 1,483 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. He rushed 43 times for 77 yards and three touchdowns. Some felt the pressure of all the expectations got to Rattler some last season. Does Beamer feel there’s additional pressure on Rattler this season?
“I don’t know if there’s pressure,” Beamer said. “I would say this. People forget, Spencer Rattler is the starting
quarterback at Oklahoma. He had some pretty high amount of pressure replacing guy by the name of Baker
Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts. And then what does he do in his first two conference games at Oklahoma as the starting quarterback? We, not him, we lose to Kansas State at home, then we lose to Iowa State on the road. He’s replacing all these guys, had a lot of pressure going into that season. Started out 0-2 in the conference. Never flinched.
“The narrative I know was he got benched last year in the Texas game. He got sat down the year before, too. Then he came back in the second half, played his butt off, beat Texas in four overtimes and he never lost a game as a starting quarterback again, and still hasn’t as a starting quarterback. I don’t worry about Spencer. There may be some outside pressure with him. He’s been through the fire before. I saw firsthand how he handled it when he was at Oklahoma and started out 0-2. Never flinched. Continued to get better. There will be some ups, certainly some downs this season. But I have no worry about him from that standpoint and being able to handle it. We have to be great around Spencer, players and coaches, play well and help him. With Spencer, nobody is asking him to go out there and be Superman, just go be you, and confident that he will.”
South Carolina went 7-6 in 2021 and won its bowl game over North Carolina 38-21. The Gamecocks were just 1-4 on the road including winless in the SEC contests away from home. The only road win was 20-17 over East Carolina in the second game of the season.
Rattler and his teammates will open the season at home on Saturday, Sept. 3, by hosting Georgia State. The following week they will kickoff at 11 a.m. on ESPN against Arkansas in Fayetteville.