Growing up in western Kentucky during the early 1980s, South Carolina Gamecocks football coach Shane Beamer has a deep appreciation for just how far Mark Stoops has taken the Kentucky Wildcats’ football program during his nine seasons in Lexington.
The son of legendary college football coach Frank Beamer and new South Carolina coach will come face-to-face with Stoops, also a coach’s son, when the Gamecocks host Kentucky at 7:00 pm ET Saturday night on ESPN2.
Stoops’ dad, Ron, was a respected defensive coordinator for many years at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown (OH), while Frank was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2018 after 29 seasons at Virginia Tech.
Frank actually began his head coaching career at Murray State between 1981-86, winning an OVC title in his final year before leaving to coach the Hokies.
The younger Beamer is also very familiar with the Stoops family tree of successful coaches, working as an assistant alongside Bob and Mike Stoops at Oklahoma from 2018-2020.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach (Mark) Stoops and what he’s done at Kentucky. He’s elevated that program,” said Beamer during his weekly press conference. “I grew up in Murray, Kentucky when my dad was the head coach at Murray State. From the age of 2 to the age of 10, I lived in Kentucky, so I know all about UK football and UK athletics from growing up in that part of the country, or in that state, and it’s impressive how Coach Stoops has come in and taken that program to a higher level.”
Beamer, 44, was hired on December 6th, 2020, to take over a South Carolina program that had fallen on hard times of late, losing eight games during both the 2019 and 2020 seasons under former coach Will Muschamp.
After opening with wins over Eastern Illinois and East Carolina, the Gamecocks ran into a buzzsaw last week, as No. 2 Georgia rolled to a 40-13 win that resulted in a viral moment on social media as Beamer let some frustration spill over into the press room.
Shane Beamer on Georgia's defense is so honest pic.twitter.com/eIzFkhjhWh— Stadium (@Stadium) September 20, 2021
Stoops, second behind Alabama’s Nick Saban in seniority among SEC coaches, knows all too well about the hard knocks of competing in the nation’s best conference and provided some sage advice for any new head coach.
“I’m sure the basis of what he does comes from his background and who he is, I would think. I am just thinking in my own situation,” said Stoops on if he thinks the younger Beamer’s philosophy is influenced by his father’s success. “But you have to be your own self and have to be authentic. He’s obviously being him, with I’m sure taking all the lessons and being around his father his whole life. Again, I can’t get in his head, I think he has done a very good job and seems to be authentic — because if you’re not authentic in this business, it’s not going to work. So he can’t be his father, but I’m sure there are many things he has learned.”
One of Beamer’s strengths early on has been his attention to detail as the first year coach dropped some impressive UK knowledge during his recent weekly press conference in Columbia.
Here’s what he shared from his scouting report on the Wildcats earlier in the week.
On Liam Coen’s Offense
“They’re still really physical running the football, but now you have even more of a big play pass threat off of it. You see a lot of NFL principles with the new offensive coordinator coming in, so they’re doing a great job and (that) has only elevated their ability to win football games with some of the elements they’ve added to the offense with personnel and scheme have made them even more dangerous.”
On Will Levis
“The quarterback they have is playing at a really high level. Really impressive player. He’s got size. He can run. He throws one of the more impressive deep balls that I’ve ever seen, I mean, I think they’re second in the country, if I’m not mistaken, in explosive pass plays, so they are a big-play offense.”
“Will is 6-foot-3, 232 pounds. That’s what they list him as, so he’s built like a H-back back there that you’re trying to tackle, not to mention that he has a rocket for an arm and is really, really accurate with a quick release. They’re throwing deep balls 60 yards down the field over people’s heads, but then you’ve also become aware of him just keeping the ball and running it, and you’ve got to worry about this (big) offensive line.”
On Wan’Dale Robinson
“He is lights out. We have to have a great plan for him because he can take the top off a defense in a hurry and there’s no throw on the field that this quarterback can’t make.”
“(Wan’Dale) Robinson is a game-changer with his speed. Missouri saw it the first play of the game if I’m not mistaken. He is electric.”
On Darian Kinnard:
“He’s a first-round draft pick. He’s a huge man — 6-foot-5, 338 pounds — but he is light on his feet, athletic, and I don’t think he’s given up a pass pressure all year, so that’s a big challenge for our edge guys.”
On the Kentucky Defense:
“Defensively, experienced and physical. You look at their front guys, they all have size. The end, number four (Josh Paschal) is super disruptive (and) one of the better players in our league, plays fast with twitch. We faced a big defensive tackle last week from Georgia, and we’ve got another one this week in (Marquan) McCall. On tape, he’s just dominating people at the line of scrimmage, and they’ve really been helped by the transfer linebacker from Ole Miss. (Jacquez) Jones is all over the field, he makes plays everywhere and then an experienced secondary. It will be a big challenge for us.”