Brindise sticks to the program, stays positive

Brother of former Florida QB has never taken a snap in a game but remains optimistic

jperson@thestate.comMarch 31, 2010 

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USC backup quarterbacks No. 17 Zac Brindise and No. 12 Andrew Clifford wait their turn during passing drills.

RICH GLICKSTEIN/RGLICKSTEIN@THESTATE.COM

Zac Brindise has seen several quarterbacks come and go in the three seasons he has stood on the South Carolina sideline waiting for an opportunity.

That chance came Tuesday when Brindise's strong showing in Saturday's scrimmage earned him the first snap in the 7-on-7, passing drill.

Brindise's window of opportunity appeared to close quickly.

After a couple of errant throws in the 7-on-7 session, Brindise did not take a snap in the team drills. He is used to the view: The former walk-on has yet to play in a game.

Yet, while four scholarship quarterbacks have left the program in the past 15 months, Brindise has remained, hoping for a shot.

"I've seen a couple guys come and leave," Brindise said after Tuesday's practice. "I'm just trying to keep pushing, trying to better myself and maybe get in a situation where I can compete."

Brindise, a junior from Fort Myers, Fla., whose brother Noah played for Steve Spurrier at Florida, actually left the team in the fall of 2008.

He returned a day later.

"I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I was thinking about going somewhere a little smaller or starting the recruiting process over and going to a junior college," Brindise said. "But I love it here. I love everything about it. I love the players. I love the coaches. I wanted to stay, and I'm glad I stuck around."

Brindise is one of three quarterbacks competing for the No. 2 spot behind Stephen Garcia. Freshman Connor Shaw looked like the clear backup after a good start this spring, but Brindise and Andrew Clifford out-played Shaw in Saturday's scrimmage.

Brindise completed 5 of 8 passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns. But he seemed to lose momentum during Tuesday's practice.

"He had a decent scrimmage Saturday. He struggled a little bit out here today," Spurrier said. "He's out here competing. He's doing OK."

Brindise said he would not mope about his struggles Tuesday.

"I've just to keep my head up. It's happened to me before," he said. "It's not a sprint. It's a marathon, so you come back out here and try to push for the job."

Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus has been working with Brindise to play faster this spring. But Mangus does not question Brindise's familiarity with Spurrier's system.

"He's very knowledgeable. That's his strength. He's been around the system," Mangus said. "He's known a lot of this stuff for a long time, even previous, with his brother."

Mangus said Brindise is "a little better athlete" than his brother, who played for the Gators from 1995-97 and coached with Spurrier with the Washington Redskins. Zac Brindise said his brother has been a great mentor.

"He's been through it all. He's been through the ups. He's been through the downs," he said. "Also, he knows the system. He knows how it works. He's a great guy to lean on. He's a great guy to talk to when I've got a question or a problem, because he's been there."

Whether he wins the backup job this spring, Brindise said he plans on staying at USC. And while he would love to play, if he never takes a snap Brindise said he will have taken something from his college experience.

"I'll leave with a college degree and I'll leave a lot smarter than I ever was, learning from the best," Brindise said. "But at the same time, everyone wants to play. So of course you're going to have thoughts about what if I did this, what if I did that. But ultimately, I'm really happy that I'm here and really happy to be part of this team."

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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