The most interesting comments to come from Will Muschamp’s introductory spring press conference on Tuesday involved a player some South Carolina fans wouldn’t mind to see less of next fall. Of course, that player is senior quarterback Jake Bentley.
Bentley has had an interesting career in Columbia beginning with the burning of his redshirt midway into his freshman season and leading the Gamecocks to a bowl game that season by contributing in wins over UMass, Tennessee, Missouri and Western Carolina to close out the 2016 season. Since that point, Bentley has had major expectations on his shoulders but never really lived up to that hype entering his senior season.
At times last season, South Carolina fans even booed Bentley which caused the Gamecock quarterback to respond by playing arguably the best football of his collegiate career. He also had some interesting displays of emotion on the sideline last fall.
Now South Carolina has added a new quarterback to the roster in high school All-American Ryan Hilinski from California. The 2019 signee enrolled early on campus and is set to compete for the backup role this spring.
Muschamp was asked about South Carolina’s young quarterbacks on Tuesday and the Gamecock coach claims three players will all be given an opportunity to work their way up the team’s depth chart this spring.
“There’s no question those guys will get a fair amount of reps, obviously Dakereon (Joyner), Jay (Urich) and Ryan (Hilinski). All three guys have had really good offseason programs and worked extremely hard to put themselves in this position,” Muschamp said. “(They) gotta go out there with 11 on the other side and perform well. Certainly, I think all three are capable.”
While he hopes to know who the team’s backup quarterback will be by the end of spring football, South Carolina’s coach said he’s in no hurry to make that decision. Here is what Muschamp had to say when asked if a decision on the backup role would be made by the end of spring camp.
“I would hope so but I’m not going to put a timetable on it but at the end of the day, we’ve got 15 practices,” he continued. “A select number of practices in fall camp before we really need to make that decision so that’s not pressing, in terms of a time concern. They are all young players that need to improve and we’ve been pleased with their progress but now we are going to play football.”
Muschamp also noted that he will look to get the backup quarterbacks some snaps with the first-team offense this spring, in addition to snaps with the team’s other groups.
That led to a question regarding Jake Bentley’s status with the team. Is it possible Muschamp would bench his senior for a less experienced quarterback? Based on his answer, it appears he would be willing to do that if necessary.
“I want the best quarterback that we can at the University of South Carolina. We will see who that presents itself as we move forward,” Muschamp said.
After saying that, Muschamp was asked if Bentley was entrenched as the team’s starter heading into spring training.
“There’s no question right now he’s the best quarterback on our roster, but he has to play well and he understands that. That’s true of every position,” Muschamp answered. “We’ve had guys that have played a lot of football here and been very successful but if someone comes in here and outplays them, we will go with another guy.”