Rattler's return, new OC bring hope to Gamecocks offense


COLUMBIA - South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler needed answers before deciding his football future. He got all the right ones from his teammates and new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains that led to Rattler sticking around for another season.

Rattler's path seemed clear when he transferred from Oklahoma to the Gamecocks after the 2021 season. The strong-armed passer who led the Sooners to a Big 12 championship would polish things up before setting off for the NFL.

Turns out Rattler's late-season flourish with top-10 victories over Tennessee and Clemson left him wanting to achieve even more in college.

"I felt like we left some things on the table," said Rattler, who will conclude what's expected to be his final spring college workouts Saturday night at the annual Garnet-and-Black game.

Not that Rattler didn't need a few facts before making his return official. Marcus Satterfield, the attack's coordinator the past two years, headed to Nebraska for a similar position. Receiver Antwane "Juice" Wells Jr., who led the team with 68 catches for 928 yards and six touchdown grabs, was strongly considering going pro.

But the Gamecocks hired Arkansas assistant and longtime NFL offensive coordinator Loggains to lead the offense and Wells, like Rattler, wanted to play another year in college.

"We could've both taken that next step to the next level and been OK," Rattler said this spring. "I think coming back was the right decision."

Every South Carolina supporter would agree, particularly with how the team closed the regular season. The Gamecocks were a so-so 6-4 and coming off a demoralizing 38-6 loss at Florida in mid-November where the offense managed just 237 yards of offense and 11 first downs.

The next two weeks, though, the Gamecocks ended the College Football Playoff chances of fifth-ranked Tennessee and No. 8 Clemson.

Rattler combined for 798 yards and eight touchdowns in the two victories, and Wells had 20 receptions for 301 yards, including a 72-yard scoring catch at Clemson in a 31-30 win that helped the Gamecocks end their seven-game losing streak in the rivalry.

"It was a tough decision," Wells said about going pro. "Trying to figure what my quarterback was going to do, who's going to be the OC, what type of offense we're going to run. But everything came together and I'm happy to be here."

So is Loggains, who spent the past two seasons as Arkansas' tight ends coach. Before that, he was offensive coordinator for four NFL teams. Retaining Rattler and Wells were among Loggains' biggest priorities and he loves what he's seen so far this spring.

Loggains has studied what Rattler did well at South Carolina and at Oklahoma, and he brings things up to Rattler that the quarterback is eager to work into the offense.

Loggains has offensive questions to figure out, particularly at running back, where the top two rushers from last year in MarShawn Lloyd (573 yards, nine touchdowns) and Jaheim Bell (263 yards, three TDs) both transferred. Lloyd went to Southern Cal land Bell to Florida State.

What doesn't seem to be a question, at least for coach Shane Beamer, is Rattler's poise as a leader now compared with a year ago.

"Last year he came in at this time, and he wasn't really trying to impose his will and force his leadership on you. He was trying to earn their respect and earn a role and and go from there," Beamer said. "Now everybody knows what he can do and what he's done here at (South) Carolina, and it's very clearly his team. It's very clearly his offense."

Wells sees it, too.

"Spencer is loose," Wells said. "He's reminding me of the last two games of last year. He's loose, he's confident, he's happy."

All of which could mean big things for South Carolina's offense.