Editor’s note: Over the next final couple of weeks before preseason camp, SEC Country will take a position-by-position look at South Carolina’s 2016 roster. Up first in the position preview series are the quarterbacks.
Among the multiple newcomers in the South Carolina quarterbacks meeting room is offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, whose previous coaching stops include the Cleveland Browns, Florida, Duke and Ole Miss.
En route to an ACC title game appearance in 2013, Duke’s offense set a school record for total touchdowns (60). A year earlier, the Blue Devils set school records for 410 points and 31.5 points per game.
Though Roper’s stint as the Gators’ offensive coordinator wasn’t quite as successful, he’ll look to turn around a South Carolina offense that finished 84th nationally in passing offense and 110th in scoring
Returning from 2015
As a freshman in 2015, Nunez completed 32 of 52 passes for 376 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He also finished second on the team with 375 yards and two touchdowns. However, Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp told reporters at SEC Media Days that Nunez has been splitting time between quarterback and receiver this summer.
Orth appeared in every game last season, passing for 1,929 yards and scoring 15 total touchdowns. However, he only notched a 55 percent completion rate and threw nine interceptions. The former walk-on also rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
The new guys
The former 4-star recruit and son of running backs coach Bobby Bentley was originally committed to sign with the Gamecocks 2017 class, but he opted to reclassify as a 2016 signee and graduated from Opelika High School (Ala.) earlier this summer. When he committed in March, Bentley was ranked as the No. 6 pro-style passer in the class of 2017.
McIlwain enrolled in January as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2016. South Carolina landed a commitment from the 4-star prospect on New Year’s Eve in 2014. Regardless of how soon the true freshman works his way into the starting lineup, plenty of people around Columbia are looking to McIlwain as the program’s quarterback of the future.
Preseason depth chart
Even though Orth’s spring was cut short by a shoulder injury, he and McIlwain exited spring practice as the co-starters, and that’s how they’re listed in the weeks leading up to preseason camp.
Though Nunez is still listed as a candidate to play quarterback, it appears more and more likely that he’ll get a majority of his playing time elsewhere. Muschamp also told reporters that he’s yet to make any conclusions about Bentley, since he’s yet to see him throw in person this summer.
Michael Scarnecchia’s name has been removed from the list of competitors, due to offseason shoulder surgery.
So it’s really down to a two-horse race for the quarterbacks job as fall camp inches closer. Stay tuned.