Shane Beamer explains tangible benefits of extended practice time for Gator Bowl

Tracy Glantz/tglantz@thestate.com

South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer sees opportunities for players on his team as it begins its bowl preparation.

USC is scheduled to play Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl on Dec. 30, and Beamer’s already planned out how he wants the Gamecocks to prepare for the game.

“We practice on Sunday, take Monday off during the season, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, are our main practices,” Beamer said. “So I want to have a normal game week before we break for Christmas.”

Final exams are this week for the University of South Carolina. The Gamecocks expect to start on-campus practices next Thursday, Beamer said.

The coach hopes to get the team a week of training camp-style practice in Columbia, where the focus is more on the team getting better as a unit. The first week of bowl practice, Beamer said, is mostly for the development of the younger players on the team.

From there, USC plans to start gearing practices toward game planning and preparing for the Fighting Irish before leaving for Jacksonville.

“We want to get better as a team during this time, get our individuals better,” Beamer said.

Players across college football tend to opt out of bowl games or enter the transfer portal this time of year.

Beamer said he conducted “probably 30-plus individual meetings with a lot of the guys” on the team since the Clemson game. He added that some of the players “have a lot of decisions to make” on what they plan to do down the line.

The team’s had a handful of departures already.

RJ Roderick was the first Gamecock to depart for the transfer portal, leaving the team in October. Jordan Davis was the first player to leave after the season ended, announcing his departure days after the win against Clemson.

Defensive back Cam Smith also announced his decision to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft.

“No one else has told me at this point that they’re not playing in the bowl game,” Beamer said. “Everyone has told me they want to play in the bowl game, but they’re also working through some particulars in regards to their specific situations.”

Beamer acknowledged the challenge that losing some players could present for the Gamecocks, but said it opens up an opportunity for others to contribute.

Some of those contributions can come from the team’s freshmen. The Gamecocks have already relied on true freshmen like Nick Emmanwori and DQ Smith in the secondary during the regular season.

Any player who has not played in more than four games is eligible for an extra year of eligibility through redshirting.

“We’ve certainly got some freshmen that haven’t played in four games yet that still can play in this bowl game that maybe haven’t been key figures for us this season,” Beamer said.

Notre Dame, like South Carolina, finished the season 8-4 and in the College Football Playoff Top 25. Both squads defeated Clemson and effectively ended the Tigers’ playoff hopes. The Fighting Irish also started the season 1-2 before picking up steam.

USC had an extended period of prep time last year when gearing up for the Duke’s Mayo Bowl against North Carolina. The team won 38-21 and will have a chance to get another bowl victory later this month.

“Worked for us last year, so we’ll see if it works this year,” Beamer said of the extra time to practice. “Hopefully it does.”