The past few years have not been friendly for South Carolina fans who hadn’t seen a good season since 2017 when they went 9-4. After a rocky 7-6 campaign in 2021, the Gamecocks are working towards the top through the transfer portal. The most notable transfer is former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler. With a lot of media attention being given to the program, we can only wonder if South Carolina will surpass expectations this year and compete with Georgia atop the SEC East. The biggest question mark of whether they can do that lies with how well Rattler can play.
Firstly, let’s look at his OU career. It is no secret that Rattler was under a lot of pressure at Oklahoma, but given he was a number one ranked QB in his signing class he was supposed to be able to handle that pressure. In 2020 after two dismal games Rattler was able to be the guy OU needed him to finish the season strongly. The graph below shows us the stats per game for conference losses in blue and the conference wins in red
Therefore we can conclude that even in the bad games Rattler was still scoring at a high rate. Secondly, we can see that Rattler’s biggest improvement was limiting his negative plays as the sacks per game and interceptions per game both dropped dramatically.
During the next year, Rattler played a shaky few games before losing his job. Getting benched in the middle of the season and watching your team be successful without you is not easy on a player’s confidence. My biggest question this year is whether Rattler has that confidence that he used to have on the field. Rattler’s fire fueled his game when he was playing his best at Oklahoma, without it I do not think South Carolina will have enough to compete in the SEC.
Next, there is a big question mark regarding Rattler’s feel for the pocket. What I mean by that is the extra QB instinct that helps avoid sacks and create improvised plays. Before Rattler both Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray had it helping them be extremely successful in college. Watching Rattler there are glimpses of greatness yet he doesn’t stay consistent enough to give him anything beyond that. Many of his mistakes at OU were due to a lack of that feeling of pressure. He took a lot of sacks and turnovers were forced from his trying to do the impossible. His experience is hopefully going to teach him to play smarter which will be a must in the SEC.
Rewinding the Tape
Looking back at his Oklahoma tape there are a lot of areas that he needs to improve to face SEC defenses. This specific play against Kansas State tells the entire story.
KSU plays a deep zone on a third and long yet Rattler throws it into double coverage and in addition underthrows the ball. This play just can’t happen if he wants to win games this year.
Equally important is the emphasis on SEC defense. He is playing against much better defenses than he has ever faced in his entire career. If Texas was able to pick him apart imagine what teams like Alabama would do. It is extremely difficult for SEC QBs to succeed in these emerging teams which makes it even harder on Rattler.
Finally, the bottom line is he has the potential it is really a question if he can handle the pressure. According to Coach Shane Beamer he can, “He’s replacing all these guys, had a lot of pressure going into that season. Started out 0-2 in the conference. Never flinched.”
Rattler will only be successful in this environment if he has the confidence he brought to OU after losing two games in a row. Surrounding him with weapons through the transfer portal only helps him be able to do so. Additionally, Coach Shane Beamer seems like he is really getting the players to buy in. I really like South Carolina this year and am looking forward to seeing Rattler excel with Beamer. There are a lot of things to like this year and I do think they have the ability to compete with the Bulldogs in the SEC East.
Top Photo-South Carolina Athletics