One of Shane Beamer’s biggest career steps came at Georgia. He helped the Bulldogs elevate to a national power at the beginning of the Kirby Smart era.
A few years and a couple of stops later, the rising Beamer stands on the opposite sideline as South Carolina’s head coach. He will lead his program into Athens on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN), and both schools have opened the season 2-0.
On Monday, Smart spoke about his new rival and former colleague, along with plenty on facing a Gamecocks’ team that underwent a slew of staff and personnel changes.
“I’ve known Shane for a long, long time,” Smart said of Beamer. “We got to be friends and we’ve been close ever since. Got a lot of respect for his family and his dad. Happy and excited for him to get the opportunity he’s gotten.”
Beamer came to South Carolina ahead of the 2021 season to replace Will Muschamp, who was dismissed and now holds a position at Georgia. Beamer had his previous experience at Oklahoma, where he saw an elevated role.
Smart believes that position under Lincoln Riley put him in a situation for head-coaching candidacy.
“Shane has the program rejuvenated,” Smart said of the Gamecocks. “Their fans are excited and rightfully so. They’ve been playing really hard. Our guys are eager to start within the SEC East.”
Georgia also has a tie to South Carolina as the Gamecocks’ signal caller hails from nearby Oconee County. Zeb Noland was a former graduate assistant, and has started the first two games at quarterback. He’s likely in competition with sophomore Luke Doty to start this week for USC.
Other Bulldog notes for the game:
Tight end Darnell Washington and defensive back Tykee Smith have shed the walking boot and have continued to make progress, Smart said. He added that Washington and Smith, who have battled the same foot injury in preseason practice, are beginning to run and Georgia hopes to have them back in the fold “quickly.” He’s not optimistic they’ll be able to play against South Carolina.
Quarterback JT Daniels has undergone a couple of treatment sessions, but Smart didn’t have much of an update Monday. He said after the victory over UAB that Daniels is feeling better after suffering an oblique injury suffered during the Clemson game.
Georgia isn’t focusing on South Carolina’s 2019 victory in Sanford Stadium, and Smart said it was more of a relevant topic last year.
Defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt, who was held out against UAB, isn’t dealing with an injury.