East Carolina will enter Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday not knowing whether it will see Perry Orth or Brandon McIwain start the game at quarterback for South Carolina.
How much difference does it make for an opponent? A big one, according to the Gamecocks’ last opponent.
“They are going to run different plays for each of them, so you have to be ready for who you are facing at quarterback and what their strengths are,” Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said Wednesday. “You have to try to take away what they do well.”
Mullen’s team watched Orth play the first half and McIlwain play the second half last week in a 27-14 Mississippi State win. McIlwain, a true freshman, had more success moving the ball against the Bulldogs, but that doesn’t mean he is more difficult to defend than Orth, Mullen said.
“It’s just different,” Mullen said.
McIlwain was 11-of-22 passing for 126 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 11 times for 17 yards against the Bulldogs.
“You can see as a young guy he is learning the drop-back game, learning how to be in the pocket and throw the football, so that’s not going to be his strong point,” Mullen said. “His strong point is elusiveness. He can extend plays. When you think you have him contained, he can extend plays and make things happen. In the running game, you have to really account for him. He can make a small play into a big play in a hurry.”
Through two games, Orth is 20-for-36 passing for 235 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, and McIlwain is 16-of-33 passing for 161 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. McIwain is the team’s second-leading rusher with 46 yards, while Orth has minus-9 rushing yards for the season.