ATLANTA — Spencer Rattler became one of the most high-profile transfers of the offseason when he announced late last year that he was leaving Oklahoma for South Carolina, but Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer said Tuesday that he isn’t worried about how the quarterback will handle the burden of expectations with the season only a month and a half away.
“There may be some outside pressure with him,” Beamer said at SEC media days. “He’s been through the fire before.”
Beamer added that, when he was an assistant coach at Oklahoma two years ago, he saw firsthand how Rattler handled pressure.
Rattler replaced Jalen Hurts, who had left for the NFL, and after beating Missouri State in the season opener, Oklahoma lost in consecutive weeks to Kansas State and Iowa State. But Beamer said Rattler continued to get better as the Sooners won eight games in a row to end the season. The No. 1-ranked quarterback in his signing class, Rattler finished with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2020.
“He’s replacing all these guys,” Beamer said, recalling the list of NFL QBs Oklahoma produced, including Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. “[He] had a lot of pressure going into that season. Started out 0-2 in the conference. Never flinched.”
But last season, Rattler regressed, throwing four interceptions in his first five games. Then, against Texas, he was benched in favor of Caleb Williams, who took advantage of the opportunity and remained the starter the rest of the season.
Beamer said he expects Rattler to experience ups and downs this season at South Carolina but also said, “I have no worry about him … being able to handle it.”
“We have to be great around Spencer — players and coaches — play well and help him,” Beamer added. “With Spencer, nobody is asking him to go out there and be Superman. Just go be you, and we’re confident that he will.”
Rattler was far from the only notable transfer Beamer and South Carolina landed this offseason.
The Gamecocks also picked up Rattler’s former Oklahoma teammate, tight end Austin Stogner, along with former James Madison receiver Antwane Wells Jr. and former Central Michigan safety Devonni Reed.
Last season, South Carolina surpassed expectations. Despite it being Beamer’s first time as a head coach and despite having to play with three different quarterbacks, the Gamecocks reached a bowl game and finished 7-6.
But now, Beamer said, things are different.
“People are talking about us nationally, which is what we want,” he said. “We have high expectations at South Carolina. People are talking about our players as individuals more nationally than what they were last year. There’s more buzz about this program right now.
“The key for us, the challenge for us, will be being mature enough to handle that the right way as a football team and understand the work ethic that it’s going to take to get back to what we did last season and understanding that the reason we had a lot of success that we did last year was how connected we became as a team.”
South Carolina will open the season Sept. 3 against Georgia State.