South Carolina coach Shane Beamer doesn’t see Georgia State through the same lens that he viewed last year’s opening-night opponent from a lesser conference.
He sees the Panthers as a legitimate threat in Saturday night’s game in Columbus, S.C.
“We opened with Eastern Illinois last year,” Beamer said, referencing the team the Gamecocks defeated 46-0. “No offense, but this ain’t Eastern Illinois. Georgia State has played a lot of football together and had a heck of an opportunity to beat Auburn last year. We know what this game means to them and we have to go and play well.”
The Gamecocks will introduce new quarterback Spencer Rattler, a transfer from Oklahoma who went 15-2 as a starter and threw for 4,595 yards and 40 touchdowns in 23 games for the Sooners.
Georgia State returns 18 starters from last year’s 8-5 team that won the Camellia Bowl. The Panthers finished second in the Sun Belt’s East Division and went bowling for the third time in a row.
The emotions will run high for Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott and the Panthers’ 20 native South Carolinians on the roster, including quarterback Darren Grainger, sixth-year center Malik Sumter and cornerback Quavian White.
Elliott grew up in nearby Camden and spent seven seasons on staff at South Carolina. He and Beamer were assistants on the team that won the SEC East in 2010 and their families remain close friends. Elliott was interim head coach for the final six games in 2015 when Steve Spurrier quit in midseason.
“It’s going to be thrilling, honestly,” Elliott said. “I grew up 25 miles away, watched a lot of games there, won a high school state championship there. And now we’re taking our team there to open our season. That’s going to be hopefully a great night. It’s going to be an exciting one.”
Beamer hopes it isn’t too exciting, but any victory will work for the Gamecocks, who are coming off a 7-6 record in Beamer’s first season as head coach.
Though Georgia State and South Carolina have never met, the Gamecocks are 18-2 all-time against teams from the Sun Belt. Georgia State is 1-13 against Power Five teams, earning the program’s signature win at Tennessee to open the 2019 season.
–Field Level Media