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2021 South Carolina college football preview: Gamecocks have low expectations in Shane Beamer’s first year

South Carolina bottomed out in the 2020 season, and it led to new head coach Shane Beamer. The Gamecocks have a lot of rebuilding to do, and expectations are not high heading into the season.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Kentucky Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks are now in the Shane Beamer business after parting ways with Will Muschamp midway through the 2020 season. The Gamecocks finished last year with a 2-8 record and fortunately for them, Vanderbilt remains in the SEC to take the bottom spot of the conference.

Beamer had been on the Oklahoma staff each of the last three seasons, and will have his first shot at being a head coach at the college level. South Carolina is going through a complete rebuild without a ton of returning production from last year. Expectations are extremely low in what should be Year -1 for Beamer, and it will take a few seasons to see if this program is headed in the right direction.

2020 Season Review

  • 2-8 SEC (6th in East)
  • Started 0-2, won two straight, lost final six games by an average of 24.8 points

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 80
ESPN Returning Production: 47% overall (124th): 54% offense (102nd), 40% defense (124th)
Returning Talent Index: Negative, 14th in SEC
Returning starters: 8/11 offense, 6/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: Luke Doty (Sophomore)

Luke Doty will likely get the start Week 1 at the quarterback position after taking over late in 2020. He had extended playing time in the final three games and completed 60.6% of his passes last season. He threw for 405 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Doty will need some help on the outside without Shi Smith, who was selected in the NFL Draft. South Carolina’s receiving corps is a group of unknowns, and somebody will need to step up.

Offense (non-QB): RB Kevin Harris (Junior)

With plenty of questions at the pass catcher position, Kevin Harris figures to make a difference in a variety of areas. He is the best skill position player on this offense and will be relied on to have a big year in 2021. Harris finished last season with 6.2 yards per carry, 1,138 total rushing yards with 15 touchdowns. He also finished third on the team in receptions and receiving yards.

Defense: DE Kingsley Enagbare (Senior)

The Gamecocks will need to replace a ton of experience on the defensive side of the ball, and edge rusher Kingsley Enagbare should play a key role for this unit. Defensive line should be South Carolina’s strength of the defense, and Enagbare is the most talented of the group. He finished with seven tackles for loss in each of the last two seasons and had six sacks in 2020 with a pair of forced fumbles.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 84th overall: 89th offense, 74th defense, 80th special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 90th overall: 87th offense, 92nd defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +40000
To win SEC: +25000
Win total: 3.5 (Over -167, Under +130)

2020 Against The Spread: 3-6-1
2020 Point Total: Over 7-3-0

2021 South Carolina Schedule

2021 South Carolina Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Saturday, Sep. 4 Eastern Illinois 7:00pm/ESPN+ N/A
Saturday, Sep. 11 at East Carolina 12:00pm/ESPN2 N/A
Saturday, Sep. 18 at Georgia 7:00pm/ESPN N/A
Saturday, Sep. 25 Kentucky TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 2 Troy TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 9 at Tennessee TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 16 Vanderbilt TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 23 at Texas A&M TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 30 OPEN TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 6 Florida TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 13 at Missouri TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 20 Auburn TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 27 Clemson TBA N/A