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South Carolina’s Beamer Talks Roadtrip To Knoxville

Photo via The State

Tennessee is looking for its third straight win over South Carolina when first year head coach Shane Beamer brings the Gamecocks to Knoxville Saturday. 

While Beamer coached in the SEC just two seasons in the decade before he became the Gamecocks’ head coach, the son of legendary Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer is familiar with Knoxville and the Vols’ program.

“Going back to Knoxville this weekend. Going back to a place where I have great memories of,” Beamer said. “(I’m) a proud graduate of their sports management program, led by Buck Jones at the time and Dr. Rob Hardin, who is still there— I think— running their sports management program. So I have a masters degree from Tennessee and great memories there from my time working for Phillip Fulmer as a graduate assistant and working for John Chavis when he was the defensive coordinator. … I learned a lot of football from coach Fulmer in my time and made a lot of great friends.”

Just over 18 years after graduating from Tennessee, Beamer brings a 3-2 South Carolina team looking for its first conference win to Neyland Stadium.

With Tennessee and South Carolina both starting over with new coaches this season, the comparisons between Beamer and Josh Heupel are going to be constant over the next number of years.

“Probably,” Beamer said when asked if it is fair to compare Tennessee under Heupel and South Carolina under him. “Certainly similar programs. Both didn’t have years last year that they wanted to have. Both programs were affected by attrition, people leaving (in) the transfer portal. Obviously they have two guys that would be playing on their offense right now that are at Oklahoma and one guy (that was) on their defense that’s starting at Alabama. The same could be said for us with some people that left this program. We’ve certainly been aided by additions to our program from the transfer portal and so have they. They lost some good players in it but they’ve added some good ones as well. So it’s probably a fair comparison.”

As far as what will happen on the field Saturday, Beamer highlighted Tennessee’s offensive pace and the challenges that presents defenses. The former Oklahoma, Georgia and South Carolina assistant coach also emphasized Tennessee’s rushing attack.

“We have to do a great job of handling their tempo,” Beamer said. “They certainly try to run a lot of plays and people think tempo, they’re throwing the ball all over the place and that’s not the case. They want to run the football and that was very evident against Missouri last weekend. No one is running the ball more in the SEC than Tennessee is. They lead the conference in rushing attempts and they run the quarterback, who is a load back there, in Hooker. They run the running backs. They have talented backs and are a challenge offensively because of how well they run the football and their tempo.”

South Carolina’s defense has been really solid this season, giving up the fifth least points in the SEC this season. The Gamecocks have an aggressive and opportunistic defense that leads the conference in turnovers forced.

However, South Carolina’s run defense has been suspect for most of the season and Beamer knows that must be cleaned up Saturday.

On the defensive side of the ball, Beamer sees what most head coaches have when looking at Tim Banks’ defense this season. An aggressive group that is keeping things simple and playing incredibly hard.

“Defensively, they’re really, really playing hard,” Beamer said. “That’s obvious. They’ve got a system. They believe in what they do and those guys— the young men on that defense— it’s obvious they believe in it the way they play. They’re talented up front and got some experienced guys in the secondary.”

Tennessee will take a page out of South Carolina’s book this season. The Gamecocks have worn blck uniforms the last four times the Vols have played in Columbia. This season, Tennessee is debuting its new “dark mode” jerseys against South Carolina.

Tennessee and South Carolina will kick off from Neyland Stadium at noon ET and ESPN2 will broadcast the game.

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