COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s quarterback competition most likely won’t come to an end after Saturday’s scrimmage, but what coach Will Muschamp called “judgment day” could lead to some changes to the overall quarterback picture.
“I think we’ve gotta narrow it down to two,” Mushcamp said. “There’s no question. Still have the third guy repping, at times, but we’ll see how they do Saturday.”
So far, the three through camp have been senior Perry Orth and freshmen Brandon McIlwain and Jake Bentley. Based on the situation where McIlwain enrolled early and Bentley arrived for fall camp, Muschamp said he thinks Orth and McIlwain would be the two “strictly cause of experience, reps and turns.”
“From a talent level standpoint, he’s right there,” Muschamp said. “It’s just a matter of the experience within the offense and what we are trying to do.”
That’s where Orth and McIlwain have the leg up, but Muschamp said there’s no real leg up between the two of them at this point in what he called a “very well-contested battle.”
Throughout the fall, Orth and McIlwain have been splitting first-team reps, alternating days to get those turns in a battle now turns to Saturday and the first fall scrimmage, which will build upon a scrimmage of a lesser scale that took place Wednesday.
“We’ve created a bunch of one-minute situations all week of putting them under duress and in tough situations where they’ve gotta manage the clock and manage the offensive football team,” Muschamp said. “Saturday will be a good judgment day for them.”
There is potential that the offensive scheme will have different elements to it depending upon which quarterback is under center, as McIlwain brings more ability with his legs than Orth and Bentley. But Muschamp noted that the latter two are “good enough athletes” that opponents would have to be aware of them defensively for their ability beyond throwing the ball.
Earlier Friday, co-offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon said he thinks all three quarterbacks can go in and operate what the Gamecocks will seek to do offensively as they have enough in common.
And that could be one of the reasons the battle keeps going and one of the reasons that Muschamp has not ruled out the idea of playing two quarterbacks throughout the 2016 season.
“I think we’ve gotta do what it takes to win,” he said. “If it takes two, it takes two. The competition has been very healthy from the standpoint of it’s three really class young men that have been raised right. They’re good people and, at the end of the day, they want the best for the University of South Carolina.”
Mike Wilson covers South Carolina athletics for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on the Gamecocks.