COLUMBIA — South Carolina football opened preseason training Friday with high expectations, abundant positivity and plenty to prove. A lot 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 a while since I played football. I’ll be online.”
Rattler started with the starting lineup as planned with Luke Doty his primary replacement. Rattler’s arm strength resembled what was being advertised on limited media viewing with multiple midfield completions and quick sideline exits.
But it’s not just about having a top quarterback who started to generate excitement around coach Shane Beamer’s program in his second season.
“There’s no doubt the way we ended last season gave us and our fans a lot of energy and excitement for the season,” Beamer said during Thursday’s media day. “There was a quick turnaround between the Mayo Bowl and the start of classes in January. We just kept that momentum going. The cool thing is that (we were) excited about how we finished, but we also have the momentum that 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 improved over the year last year. It will be review this year.
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Only two players did not take part in Friday’s exercises. Punter and starter Kai Kroeger is out with a foot injury he suffered last week. Beamer called the injury “short-term” and remained optimistic that Kroeger would be back for the September 3 season opener at home against Georgia State.
First-year defensive lineman Jamaal Whyce spent the first 30 minutes when media were allowed to observe working with an assistant in the indoor facility with a staff member. His condition is not known.
There was no availability for interviews on Friday, but Beamer felt the rest of his players were healthy and in good spirits the day before.
“We’ve got a few guys that maybe we need to watch at the start of practice this week,” Beamer said. “Make sure they don’t overdo it early on as we pick up the pace of things.”
Former defensive lineman Rick Sandidge was on the field after Beamer announced last week that his career at USC was over due to injury. Beamer hopes Sandidge will continue to be part of the program.
“We talked about different roles for him,” Beamer said. “He told me about some things he wants to be involved in the program this fall so he can continue to contribute. It’s like I said to Rick, ‘You might not be playing on Saturdays but you I’m still a member of this team and a valuable part of this football family.”