Traditionally, the backup quarterback is the most popular player on a college football team as fans clamor for whoever is starting to be shown the door, but Michael Scarnecchia knows that’s not true at South Carolina.
Scarnecchia is the Gamecocks’ junior quarterback who is coming off a year missed due to shoulder surgery and has won the No. 2 quarterback job behind Jake Bentley in preseason camp.
“My goal was really to solidify myself as the No. 2 and compete at No. 1, push Jake,” the 6-foot-4, 209-pound Florida native said. “I feel like every day I’ve gotten better. I wanted to show the coaches what I had so that if anything were to happen and a situation were to arise where I got in the game, I wanted to let Coach know, ‘You can be comfortable with me going in there. Don’t be afraid.’ ”
The Gamecocks are not worried, head coach Will Muschamp said.
“He’s a guy who has come in and really played extremely well in this camp, has thrown the ball extremely well,” Muschamp said. “We could go in the game with Michael and feel very comfortable. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”
Still, Scarnecchia knows everyone in garnet and black would like for Bentley, the sophomore All-SEC candidate, to remain healthy and in control of the job.
“I just push Jake as much as I can,” he said. “I am pushing to be the starter so I’m going to push him so he’s like, ‘Hey, I have to step my game up even more.’ ”
Scarnecchia wants to attend law school when his football career is finished and has an LSAT scheduled for December. That means that along with being the Gamecocks’ backup quarterback and preparing each week as if he’s going to play, he will get in at least 10 hours a week of study for the LSAT.
“You just have to find time where you can fit it in,” he said. “That test is a test of how hard you study, not how much you know.”
He hopes to attend law school at South Carolina, North Carolina or Georgetown, he said.
High Praise. Sophomore wide receiver Bryan Edwards can see why freshman wide receiver Shi Smith has been named a starter in the Gamecocks’ three-receiver set.
“Shi is so explosive and he makes great plays when the ball is in the air,” Edwards said. “He’s going to be a great kid.”
Settling In. Junior offensive lineman Zack Bailey hasn’t taken a preseason snap at any position other than right tackle and feels comfortable that he will make his first start there next week against N.C. State.
“I love it right now,” he said of the position. “I’m enjoying the process, enjoying learning everything, trying to take everything in as much as I can.
Quick Trim. Tight end Hayden Hurst cut his long red hair, but not by much. Hurst took two inches off the bottom of his mane, mostly after hearing about it from his mother, he said.
“Courtesy of my mom,” he said. “She hates the long hair. It was a compromise. So here we are.”
The trim didn’t sap his strength, he said.
“No Samson here,” he said.
Left Tackle Locked Up. Junior Malik Young confirmed that he will start at left tackle next weekend ahead of Dennis Daley.
“We established that last week,” Young said. “It was a good competition because it made us both better at the end of the day. We both made each other better throughout the process.”