Heading into weekend scrimmage, Muschamp updates quarterback competition
Looking to avoid the mistakes that cost him his first head coaching job at Florida, South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp has done an impressive job of assembling quarterback talent after landing two elite high school signal callers during his short tenure in Columbia. Now comes the difficult part, selecting which player to begin the season as the team’s starter.
Considering the Gamecocks have added some impressive prospects to the depth chart in early enrollee Brandon McIlwain and — the somewhat unexpected — summer addition of Jake Bentley, both have been given the opportunity to seize the job this offseason. After a strong showing in the spring game, McIlwain has carried that momentum into the fall camp and looks to be the main competitor to senior Perry Orth.
While fans may be eager to turn the quarterback reins over to the talented freshman, Orth looked solid going up against the defenses of LSU, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Clemson late last season and should not be ruled out as the best option to start the season.
During his Friday press conference, Muschamp gave his latest thoughts on the camp quarterback battle.
“I think we’ve got to narrow it down to two and still have the third guy repping at times,” Muschamp said. “We’ll see how they do Saturday. We had a scrimmage situation on Wednesday. I thought all three guys did some really good things. (Saturday’s scrimmage) will be everything we’ve got in, as far as the installation, on both sides of the ball. We’ll see how they function. It’s a very well-contested battle right now (between Perry Orth and Brandon McIlwain). Saturday will be a good judgment day for them.”
Expect Saturday’s scrimmage, the Gamecocks’ first of fall camp, to give the coaching staff a better indication of which player is leading the current competition. While Orth clearly has the edge in experience, offensive coordinator Kurt Roper’s system is new to all the quarterbacks and if McIlwain is as good as advertised, the staff may want to get him on the field as soon as possible.
If none of the quarterbacks stand out during the scrimmage, another option still exists. While heading into the season without naming a full-time starter isn’t ideal, Muschamp said he was prepared to do just that, if necessary.
“I think we’ve got to do what it takes to win,” Muschamp said. “If it takes two, it takes two. I think the competition has been very healthy from a standpoint of three really class young men that have been raised right, good people, and at the end of the day, they want what’s best for the University of South Carolina.”