COLUMBIA, S.C. – After letting the competition between Brandon McIlwain and Perry Orth spill over into the regular season, Will Muschamp conceded Tuesday that there are a few too many variables for a 2-quarterback system to work at South Carolina.
“I think, certainly, everybody’s a little different in how they throw it, the different timing of different things, handoffs, especially with as much ball-handling as we have with the zone-read and the different things we’re reading,” Muschamp said. “Certainly, could be a calming factor for a lot of especially younger players. I can speak to that aspect of it.”
Fortunately for the Gamecocks first-year head coach, he doesn’t have to worry about his senior quarterback making a stink in the locker room over losing his job to a freshman. In fact, it’s probably been a while since the thought has even crossed his mind.
Earlier this summer, Rusty Orth told SEC Country about the connection between McIlwain and his son, Perry. Apparently, the two quarterbacks “clicked” immediately.
“He’s spent a considerable amount of time working with (McIlwain), talking with him, teaching him how to read defenses and doing those types of things, which at the end of the day falls back on … they’re not going to remember any records that you had,” Rusty said. “They’re going to remember what kind of person you are. Are you a quality person? Are you a good teammate?”
Muschamp said on Tuesday that’s something his coaching staff tries to “promote” within the team.
“It doesn’t always get carried out by a team member, but you look at Perry’s situation, he was constantly helping Jake (Bentley), he was constantly helping Brandon, guys that he’s competing with because he wants the best for South Carolina,” Muschamp said. “That says a lot about him as a person.”
On the surface, the players have bought into the team-first concept.
Even though the two quarterbacks have “two different games,” RB David Williams said it was up to the other 10 guys on offense to get used to the two-man system.
“I just feel like you adapt to whoever is in there,” Williams said. “I really don’t pay attention to who’s really in there.”
But there’s at least one not so subtle difference that makes it hard to ignore.
“When McIlwain is in there, you know he’s got a chance to pull it (and run),” Williams said
That’s among the reasons why Muschamp elected to move forward with McIlwain as the starter.
“When you see Brandon moving, you keep your eyes on him,” said TE K.C. Crosby, who caught 4 passes from McIlwain against ECU. “You never know when he’s going to pull up and hit you when you’re on the move.”
Perhaps that’s why South Carolina’s offense has a little more life when McIlwain is running the show.
It has to help that McIlwain doesn’t have to worry about what the other guys are saying behind his back.
“I think Perry Orth’s been great for him. Here’s a guy that’s a senior, who really has supported him in a very positive way,” Muschamp said. “I think that says a lot about who Perry Orth is, No. 1. It also says a lot about Brandon’s personality, for someone to want to help him.
“Sometimes in those situations, a young guy, you don’t want to help him. The guy thinks he knows it all. And Brandon’s not like that. Brandon is very welcoming to listening and gaining advice in those situations.”