COLUMBIA – South Carolina football opened preseason practice Friday with elevated expectations, abundant positivity and a lot to prove. Much of that has to do with transfer quarterback Spencer Rattler.
“It’s a new situation, a new place so it’s definitely fresh and exciting,” Rattler said during Thursday’s media day. “I’m just ready to go. It’s been some time since I’ve played football. I’ll be dialed in.”
Rattler started with the starting group as expected with Luke Doty his main backup. Rattler’s arm strength looked as advertised during limited media viewing with multiple completions deep down the middle of the field and quick outs to the sideline.
But it’s about more than just having a high profile quarterback that’s begun to build excitement around coach Shane Beamer’s program in his second season.
“There is no question the way we finished last season gave our fanbase and us great energy and excitement going into the season,” Beamer said during Thursday’s media day. “There was a quick turnaround between the Mayo Bowl and when classes started in January. We just kept that momentum going. The cool thing was (we were) excited about how we finished, but also have momentum we can be even better.
“Let’s do everything we can to be better than 7-6. We finished strong (and) we talked about it as a staff this morning. We got better than the year went on last year. That will be critical this year.”
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Only two players weren’t involved in Friday’s drills. Punter and holder Kai Kroeger is out with a foot injury he suffered last week. Beamer deemed the injury “short term” and remained optimistic Kroeger would be back for the Sept. 3 season opener at home against Georgia State.
Freshman defensive lineman Jamaal Whyce spent the early 30 minutes when the media was allowed to observe working with an assistant in the indoor facility with a staff member. His health status is not known.
There was no availability for interviews on Friday, but Beamer deemed the rest of his players healthy and full go the previous day.
“We have a couple guys that maybe we just have to watch at the beginning of practice this week,” Beamer said. “Make sure they’re not doing too much early on as we get back in to the swing of things.”
Former defensive lineman Rick Sandidge was on the field after Beamer announced last week his USC career was over due to injuries. Beamer hopes Sandidge will remain a part of the program.
“We’ve talked about some different roles for him,” Beamer said. “He’s talked to me about some things he wants to be involved with program-wise this fall to be able to continue to contribute. It’s like I told Rick, ‘You may not be playing on Saturday’s but you’re still a member of this team and a valuable part of this football family.’ “