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South Carolina’s season — more specifically, its offense — is sputtering.
After a dismal display in Saturday’s 44-14 throttling at No. 17 Texas A&M, USC heads into its bye week with plenty of questions to be answered on the offensive side of the football.
With that, let’s get to some football questions that readers had after the trip to College Station:
Why not put in another QB when Zeb was struggling in the first half? What harm could it do? What better way to see other players get some field experience? — Theresa Teri R.
As the old adage goes, the most popular player on a struggling offense is the backup quarterback.
For weeks fans clamored for Luke Doty to get healthy enough to replace Zeb Noland. Once that happened, the tone changed — the calls came for Noland to replace Doty. Finally, we arrived at Saturday when those behind the keyboards called for Jason Brown.
All this is to say, throwing quarterbacks at the wall to see what sticks isn’t exactly a recipe for success.
Noland wasn’t great against Texas A&M — he completed 7 of 12 passes for 30 yards — but he didn’t exactly get a ton of protection behind a line that combined for a season-low 17.3 out of 100 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.
Brown, to his credit, looked OK in mop-up duty. The former St. Francis (Pennsylvania) quarterback connected on 8 of 14 throws for 84 yards a touchdown and two interceptions.
Things got more cloudy on Monday night when South Carolina announced Noland would undergo a “minor surgical procedure” to address a meniscus tear in his right knee. The news release noted he’s expected back for the Florida game on Nov. 6 — but if he can’t go, it should be Brown leading the way.
“My question is how long before (Shane Beamer) says ‘enough’? The fan base will not pay good money to continue to watch these type of performances, while other programs are building winners. Just saying he better get it solved quickly or he may not be head coach for much longer. I will say I’m a Beamer fan, but these performances are not what I imagined when he became coach.” — Freddie T.
Freddie’s thoughts are a pretty solid microcosm of where South Carolina fans seem to stand right now. Most like Beamer and the positivity he’s brought, but the offense’s struggles make it hard to continue to get behind the Gamecocks at times.
I’ll get into the offense more in a second, but there is some truth to the idea of apathy among fans. Beamer certainly isn’t on the hot seat. Even if this season was a complete catastrophe — which it hasn’t been — it’s hard to see a South Carolina athletic department that’s strapped for cash shelling out another massive buyout.
Beamer remained steadfast on Sunday night that he has confidence in offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield and the rest of his staff moving forward. However, nights like Saturday make it harder and harder for those outside the program to endure the offensive displays they’re seeing on the weekends.
USC may not make a play-calling change or anything of that nature during the season, but another performance like that against Texas A&M and Beamer may not have much choice but to shake things up in the fast-approaching offseason.
“We got problems, but the worst part of it is the offensive line play. Supposed to be a strong point these guys can’t block anything. It’s Beamer’s first year and Muschamp didn’t help him any with all the defections. They need some time. Remember Dabo (Swinney) didn’t inherit a fantastic team at Clemson and it took Spurrier 4 years.” — Michael H.
Mike makes a lot of really good points here. It took Dabo Swinney two-plus years to get things on the right track in the Upstate. Steve Spurrier didn’t win more than eight games in a season until his sixth year in Columbia.
Now, it’s not fair to compare one of the greatest coaches in college football history (Spurrier) and one of the best current coaches in the sport not-named Nick Saban (Swinney) to Beamer in his first season.
The offensive line has certainly been a punching bag in recent weeks, and rightfully so. The Gamecocks have struggled to keep whoever has been at quarterback upright this fall — ranking dead last in the SEC in pass blocking and 10th in run blocking per PFF. That’s not to mention the umpteen wayward snaps that shot all over the South Carolina backfield.
This year was always going to be a rebuilding year to some degree or another, and USC’s offensive line certainly hasn’t helped the cause of late.
“When we gonna fire that (offensive line coach Greg Adkins) and then (offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield)? Eleven yards in the first half…seriously? I realize they’re really good and we’re not but seriously…eleven!?” — Curtis C.
I don’t want to completely rehash Saturday night’s fiasco of an offensive effort (I basically did as much the other day), but Curtis’ frustration is warranted.
A Southeastern Conference program eight weeks into the season should not look the way South Carolina did on Saturday night. It’d still be a little surprising to see USC fire anyone midseason, but the Texas A&M loss felt like it might be a boiling point for Satterfield and, perhaps, others.
On a more positive note, I watched Chris Farley’s “Tommy Boy” on the plane back from College Station and it was an absolute riot. That got me to thinking what some of my favorite comedy movies of all-time are.
If I had to pare it down, here’s where I land:
The Big Lebowski
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Monty Python and The Holy Grail
Ferris Bueller’s Day off