A quarter of the way through the 2016 schedule, Brandon McIlwain has solidified himself as South Carolina’s starting quarterback.
Will Muschamp, however, isn’t ready to write off 2016 as Jake Bentley’s redshirt season.
Bentley is the Gamecocks’ third-team quarterback. He will continue receiving reps in practice, dress out for home games and remain a part of the travel roster.
“We have an opportunity period for all of our young players – football is a developmental game, you’ve got to take reps,” Muschamp said. “You’ve got to take snaps.
“We have a developmental period for over half of our roster of guys that maybe they played in the game, but they didn’t get a bunch of snaps. They went out in shells (Sunday) and we had about a 45-min practice and we ended up with a scrimmage there at the end. It was awesome and Jake got every rep.”
Muschamp trotted out two quarterbacks in the first three games during his tenure as South Carolina’s head coach. In the first two, McIlwain backed up senior Perry Orth.
On Saturday, in the Gamecocks’ 20-15 win over East Carolina, McIlwain played every snap.
Through three games, he’s completed 32-of-61 passes for 356 yards and 2 touchdowns. His rating is 112.30. McIlwain is second on the team with 27 carries for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Orth has connected on 20-of-36 throws for 235 yards and an interception. He figures to remain as McIlwain’s backup.
Then again, Bentley could be just as close to the No. 2 job as he is the No. 1. More practices like the one he had Sunday night could help push him over the edge.
Those workouts certainly helped one of Muschamp’s former star defensive ends.
“Dante Fowler, third pick in the (NFL) draft, we used to call him Monday Night Football. He took reps his freshman year and he got better,” Muschamp said, “So that’s just something that we do. It’s a developmental game.
“You’ve got to develop the lower half of your roster just like you do the upper half of your roster … we’re going to develop them. We’re going to develop them and coach them here. We do it every Sunday.”