The Gamecocks football program showed significant improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 under head coach Shane Beamer, but perhaps most importantly there were signs the South Carolina culture Beamer is trying to cultivate is continuing to take hold.
Those were just the outward manifestations of everything Beamer has been building toward since the first day he set foot on campus after taking over for Will Muschamp.
“It definitely wasn’t immediate, and I mean I still think every day it’s a work in progress,” Beamer said. “I think we’re in a great place right now, but by no means have we like think that we’ve got it all figured out and we relax. Because every year is so different with the number of new people that come into your program each and every year.”
During spring football practice, Beamer broke down some of the ways he went about instilling the South Carolina culture.
More time early on was spent forging relationships with players than drawing up ball plays.
“Early on we were very intentional about it, especially when I first got hired,” he said. “I wasn’t spending a lot of time from an Xs and Os standpoint in the offensive and defensive meetings when I first got hired. I was in the weight room and out on the field and around these guys as much as possible.”
Beamer actually recalls some of the exact moments when he started to feel like all the work put in was paying off.
It didn’t actually take that long.
“I’ll always go back to Game 2 of 2021 when we went and played at East Carolina,” Beamer said. “At that point we really hadn’t faced a lot of adversity as a program. Luke Doty got hurt in preseason practice, so we had to overcome that and that was a time that I realized all eyes are on me in regards to me being the head coach and the players in this program were looking at me.”
They needed to, because South Carolina got punched in the mouth early by East Carolina.
“We went down 14-0. First play of the game we went down 7-0 after we warned them to watch out for the double pass on the first play of the game,” Beamer said, shaking his head. “But we’re down 14-0 but I’ll always point back to that day and be really, really proud. We’re down 14-0 and there’s no panic and that was the first time as a program that we dealt with adversity.
“They realized that we as coaches we didn’t change all the sudden. It wasn’t like we were screaming and yelling and all that, we just continued to be ourselves and we came back. And we didn’t play pretty in the second half, but we came back and won against a good East Carolina team that day. I was proud of that, that was a sign early on.”
South Carolina won eight games last fall and was competitive with a lot of really good teams.
The goal this year is to be better than a few more of those teams than last year. That’s part talent, part heart, part coaching.
But the one thing that’s no longer in question? Whether the South Carolina culture is good enough to support a high-level winning team in the SEC. Beamer’s guys have proven that over the last two years.
“Just the way that our guys worked and got better throughout the season was really kind of evident to me that, OK, we’re on the right track, we’ve got good people in this program,” Beamer said. “I think there were just little signs throughout the season as well. But again, it’s still intentional each and every day because there’s a lot of things that we talked about in 2021 in building this culture that guys are here now that have never heard me say.
“For me it’s balancing the message I gave a lot of these guys in 2021 with being stale because they’ve heard me say it over and over, but then it’s also the first time some people are hearing it as well. It’s a constant experience.”
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