South Carolina freshman quarterback Jake Bentley threw a pass during a 7-on-7 portion of Tuesday’s practice that was worth a short conversation with offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.
Only senior passer Perry Orth intercepted his young teammate before the coach.
“Jake makes a decision — before Kurt Roper says anything, Perry walks over and says, ‘What did you see here?’ ” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “What a great example for our entire organization. A guy that’s a senior, a fifth-year senior and has contributed an awful lot to our program but continues in his way to contribute.”
If anyone was in position to be sore, it’s Orth. The fifth-year senior rose from walk-on to starter, came through the hectic run of Steve Spurrier’s last season, then an interim coach and a new staff.
This year he was an opening-game starter, lost the job to freshman Brandon McIlwain, came back and had a decent game against Georgia and then gave way to another freshman. The coaching staff put it out there that it was Bentley and McIlwain moving forward, with Orth as a third-stringer.
But Muschamp still raves about the things he does behind the scenes.
“We have roles within the organization whether it’s a football program, it’s a business, it doesn’t really matter,” Muschamp said. “If you don’t like your role, then be more productive to do something about it if you can. Understand your role and the role you’re in to do the best job you can do with the role you have.”
That role has changed in some ways, but in others stayed the same. Yes, he’s been in and out of the lineup, but he’s always been a senior caretaker of sorts.
He’s been expected to guide a pair of four-star freshmen. Only one other player in the quarterback room has half as many years as he does in the program, and that player (Michael Scarnecchia) has thrown a single pass.
Orth threw for 661 yards in his four games, connecting on 63.3 percent of his passes for no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Across two seasons, he went 2-9 as a starter.
He’s got four regular season games left as a collegian, with Saturday as his final SEC game in Williams-Brice Stadium.
He’ll likely spend that game on the sideline and wearing a headset, greeting younger quarterbacks as they come off the sideline with a little senior wisdom, or asking, “What did you see here?”
“Right now, I use the example of Perry Orth because the guy has been instrumental in the development of Brandon and Jake and continue to be in the meetings,” Muschamp said. “You hear Kurt Roper talk about how he helps those guys when they come off the sideline. All of those things to me says a lot about him as a young man, but it also sets a great example for the rest our football team.”