South Carolina’s had a busy December, to say the least.
It learned its bowl destination last Sunday, the coaching staff hit the road to begin recruiting and it hired a new offensive coordinator.
And some of the Gamecocks’ offensive stars have left ahead of the Gator Bowl.
USC lost Austin Stogner, Jaheim Bell and MarShawn Lloyd to the transfer portal earlier this month. The trio combined for 1,451 yards of the team’s offense in 2022.
The losses are palpable to South Carolina’s gameplan, but head coach Shane Beamer has set his sights on making adjustments.
“I don’t mean this in a negative way, but I don’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about the guys that aren’t here,” Beamer said. “We’ve got a bunch of really special young men and people in this program right now that are here and excited to get back to work.”
USC dealt with a similar situation in its bowl game last year.
The team used wide receiver Dakereon Joyner at quarterback after Luke Doty, Jason Brown and Zeb Noland sustained injuries earlier in the season.
He acknowledged the challenges that come with the departures and that the team must adjust with the personnel that remains.
“We played a lot of games this year with two and three tight ends on the field at times,” Beamer said. “Well, we’re not going to be able to do that against Notre Dame. So you’ve got to be creative in what you do.”
Notre Dame won’t be without its share of offensive losses, either.
Its starting quarterback, Drew Pyne, decided to enter the transfer portal. Star tight end Michael Mayer will skip the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft.
“The teams that you’re going to start seeing and playing in bowl games are going to look a lot different than the teams you saw the last week of the regular season,” Beamer said.
One of the main differences for this season, though, is that the Gamecocks will be without an offensive coordinator. Marcus Satterfield was around for the Duke’s Mayo Bowl win over North Carolina last year, but departed for Nebraska soon after the Clemson game.
Beamer won’t publicly declare a play-caller for the Gator Bowl and said that the offensive strategy will be a “group effort.”
More losses are on the horizon for the Gamecocks when looking into next season.
Traevon Kenion also announced that he will step away from football, and Nate Adkins will have completed his college eligibility after the bowl game.
Christian Beal-Smith completes his eligibility this season and Dante Miller — whom USC added from the portal before this season — also is on his last year.
South Carolina will return three of its current scholarship running backs and will bring back one scholarship tight end on the current roster. The team could return one more tight end if sixth-year Chad Terrell — who tore his ACL in August — is granted one more year.
Several of the team’s walk-on running backs and tight ends were seen getting reps at open practice on Thursday. It is not yet known how many of them will appear in the Gator Bowl — if any at all.
Beamer and the staff could look to the transfer portal to fill out next year’s roster. USC found success there last season with offensive players like Stogner, Spencer Rattler and Antwane Wells coming to Columbia.
Looking towards Dec. 30, Beamer and his staff will look to best use the available players and win a second straight bowl game for the first time in program history.
“That’s why we get paid to coach,” Beamer said. “Be creative and try to come up with a game plan.”