South Carolina’s quarterback competition looked different Tuesday as the Gamecocks convened to begin the second week of spring practice.
The man at the front of the practice line – senior Perry Orth – remained unchanged, but that was about all that looked familiar. The most notable difference was the position of sophomore Lorenzo Nuñez – standing on the sideline on crutches with his left leg in a brace from hip to ankle.
Nuñez, who started two games last season, suffered a hyper-extended knee and sprained LCL during Saturday’s practice. He could return before the end of spring practice, coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday after his team’s fifth practice of the spring, but the missed time will put him behind the competition in the race of the starting quarterback job.
“It’s nothing serious. He’ll be fine. Hope to get him back in a week or so,” Muschamp said. “It’s unfortunate for him, but he did some good things Saturday while he was in there.”
The Gamecocks did some scrimmage work during Saturday’s practice and the quarterbacks were “live,” meaning they could be hit unlike most practice sessions when quarterbacks wear yellow, non-contact jerseys to limit the chance of injury.
“I thought they responded well under duress for the first time. There were some positives from that,” Muschamp said. “They all did some nice things. They all showed some ability.”
The second noticeable change in the quarterback rotation was the placement of true freshman and early enrollee Brandon McIlwain. He directed the second drive of the day.
After Orth ran the first series, calling mostly running plays and missing on his only two pass attempts, McIlwain completed two passes – one to Jalen Christian and one to Christian Owens – on the second drive.
“He did some very nice things on Saturday,” Muschamp said of McIlwain. “He did some very productive things for our football team in moving our team. Brandon has a lot of intangibles, which is part of being a good football player and especially a good quarterback.”
Junior Connor Mitch and sophomore Michael Scarnecchia didn’t take a snap during team drills during the 20 minutes of practice open to the media. But no one has been cut from the quarterback competition, Muschamp said Tuesday.
“We will work through this week,” Muschamp said, “and we’ll get some scrimmage snaps again Saturday, and we’ll continue to press forward.”