South Carolina, QB Spencer Rattler are expecting another step forward this season

South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) passes the ball in the first half of an NCAA...
South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) passes the ball in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Clemson on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)(Jacob Kupferman | AP)
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 10:26 PM EDT
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(AP) - South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler saw too much progress and potential to abandon the Gamecocks.

For a second straight offseason, the strong-armed Rattler thought long and hard about the NFL. But he said he, receiver Antwane Wells Jr. and the Gamecocks have more to achieve after their surprising — most would call it stunning — finish to last season.

South Carolina and Rattler mostly bumped along much of the year until catching fire at the the end, defeating top-10 opponents Tennessee and Clemson in back-to-back weeks to close the season. The Gamecocks, underdogs to the fifth-ranked Vols and eighth-ranked Tigers, knocked both out of the College Football Playoff picture.

“Obviously, that next level had a real, you know, choice to pick,” Rattler said. “I just weighed it out. I thought there were more pros coming back. I just feel like we left a little on the table.”

The Gamecocks finished 8-5 in coach Shane Beamer’s second season. Once Rattler, who threw for 3,026 yards and 18 touchdowns, and Wells, 68 catches for 938 yards and six TDs, chose to come back, it sent expectations through the roof both for fans and the team.

Beamer said his players have worked hard during the offseason — “It was a physical-as-could-be, gnarly, nasty grueling summer,” the coach said with a grin — to take that next step forward.

Rattler must show more consistency to make that happen.

The fifth-year senior, like the much of the team, played his best in those final two regular-season games. He completed better than 72% of his passes in those victories (63-38 over Tennessee, 31-30 at Clemson) for 798 yards and eight touchdowns. Rattler only had two of his 12 interceptions in those wins. His 12 picks were the most of any Southeastern Conference quarterback who finished in the top 10 in league passing statistics.

Rattler did not rest on what he did at the end. “He has not slowed down,” Beamer said. “He was voted our most outstanding offensive player during spring practice and excited to see what he’s going to do this upcoming year.”

Rattler understands he needs to limit his mistakes if the Gamecocks are going to succeed.

“I take total accountability for that. What I see on film is just sometimes me trying to do too much, trusting my arm too much. Just trust the play, trust the offense, just protect the ball. That’s what it comes down to,” he said.