COLUMBIA — Shane Beamer has announced seven members of his coaching staff but continues to look for the right person to run South Carolina’s defense.
While the defensive coordinator position isn’t the only job yet to be filled, it will certainly draw the most attention.
“We’ve got a few more hires out there, three more on-the-field hires, then a strength coach, then all the support staff around those guys as well. Pleased with the progress that we’re making there,” South Carolina’s new head coach said. “Certainly have an idea of the direction those hires are going to go, one way or another.”
Beamer said the coaching carousel changes every day, pointing out that bowl games and the end of the NFL regular season could change some things. He mentioned that certain situations he didn’t expect could come into play, including Auburn firing head coach Gus Malzahn and hiring Boise State’s Bryan Harsin, which seemingly clears Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele to seek employment. Steele was the defensive coordinator at Clemson from 2009-11.
Yet Beamer still has his group of candidates, several which reached out to him, and has a timeline to finalize them.
“I want to get that wrapped up sooner than later. We still have a couple weeks until the players come back to Columbia when we got to have all that in place, and I know we’ll have it done by then,” he said. “I’ve got the guys in my mind that I want to talk to, and have been talking to and will continue to talk to. The core guys that I’ve been interested in talking to really haven’t changed from Day 1.”
The defensive coordinator role will be crucial after Will Muschamp’s teams regressed after his first two seasons. The Gamecocks finished eighth in the SEC in total defense in 2016, Muschamp’s first season. The following year USC jumped to fifth. Since then, it’s been 11th, 10th and 10th.
Like Muschamp in 2016, Beamer won’t have a lot to depend on with his first defense. Top tackler Ernest Jones is off to the NFL and was joined by cornerbacks Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu. Several other members of the secondary hit the transfer portal.
Yet he did mention he wants somebody with the ability to run a scheme with multiple looks, and someone who’s good at correcting the lapses that dogged Muschamp’s defenses.
“Got to be great at fundamentals,” Beamer said. “Got to be great tacklers and limit big plays.”
Beamer did not clarify the status of three coaches who were not mentioned as retained on Sunday. So it remains to be seen if Bobby Bentley, Joe Cox and strength coach Paul Jackson will have new roles at USC.
Beamer did say it doesn’t matter who he hires if he doesn’t have the players on the roster, and that’s the most important thing to get done after the coaching staff is filled.
Tight end Nick Muse, who became the Gamecocks’ go-to receiver when Luke Doty took over at quarterback, had said he would return if Bentley was retained as tight ends coach.
New tight ends coach Erik Kimrey said he spoke with Muse on Sunday and feels confident that Muse will return in 2021.
Follow David Cloninger on Twitter @DCPandC.