South Carolina and coach Shane Beamer scored a key offseason victory on Monday night by landing Oklahoma quarterback transfer Spencer Rattler for the 2022 season. Rattler's arrival in 2022 fills a huge need for the Gamecocks. The team desperately needed help at quarterback after cycling through three different starters in '21, and while Rattler has room to improve after an uneven sophomore season, he immediately upgrades the quarterback room and entire outlook on offense for next year.
As a redshirt freshman at Oklahoma in 2020, Rattler threw for 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns to seven picks and added six more scores on the ground. Although Rattler had a few uneven moments, he was peaking at the end of the year, including strong performances against Florida (247 yards and three scores), Iowa State (272 yards), and Oklahoma State (301 yards and four touchdowns).
The 2021 season didn't go according to plan for Rattler. Despite being among the preseason favorites to win the Heisman, Rattler was benched halfway through the year. The Arizona native still finished with 1,483 yards and 11 touchdown passes and connected on 74.9 percent of his throws.
Many issues contributed to Rattler's drop in production and benching in '21. Some of the blame could rest with the coaching staff, and the offensive line didn't play up to the level expected out of Oklahoma. There were also concerns at receiver, and the ground game struggled early on, putting a lot of pressure on the passing game and Rattler's arm. Improving on handling the rush and taking what the defense is giving him are two areas for Rattler to work on this offseason.
Perhaps Rattler will never live up to the expectations set in the preseason prior to the '21 campaign. However, there's no doubt he's an upgrade over what South Carolina was set to return at the position. Also, tight end Austin Stogner is following Rattler from Norman to Columbia. Could Rattler's presence also help attract more playmakers to join for the '22 season?
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Beamer's past connection to Rattler as an Oklahoma assistant certainly helped his case here, as he could sell an opportunity to start right away at an SEC program and work with a coach who knows his strengths and how to build an offense around him. The ability to recruit was a key check in Beamer's favor to be hired at South Carolina and it certainly paid off here.
College football's new transfer rules and the portal have created a significant amount of movement in the quarterback market every year. The new rules are a huge boost to a team that may have had a gap in recruiting, misses by a previous staff, were hit by injuries or transfers, or if the current coaches simply struggled to develop talent once it got to campus.
It's stating the obvious, but teams have to have a standout or productive quarterback to compete in the SEC. The portal has opened up another avenue to add difference-makers to a team for the upcoming year, and South Carolina and Beamer are successfully navigating it to build a better team in '22. Rattler's arrival is simply a massive win for the Gamecocks and builds off the momentum from the end of the '21 season, as Beamer arguably exceeded expectations by getting the team to 6-6.
It's up to Rattler to prove he's closer to the 2020 quarterback than the '21 version, but South Carolina should feel significantly better about its offense and overall '22 outlook with the former Oklahoma signal-caller under center.