USC Gamecocks Football

How Missouri is preparing for South Carolina’s quarterback situation

Do things change when Michael Scarnecchia is in the game?

USC coach Will Muschamp describes Michael Scarnecchia's contributions to the game
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USC coach Will Muschamp describes Michael Scarnecchia's contributions to the game

Jake Bentley is no secret to Missouri.

South Carolina’s quarterback has faced the Tigers twice in his career. Bentley as a freshman in 2016 completed 78.6 percent of his passes as the Gamecocks beat the Tigers, 31-21, at Williams-Brice Stadium. A year later, he threw for 187 yards in a 31-13 win at Mizzou.

Round 3 is tentatively scheduled for Saturday. But Bentley, of course, is coming off a knee injury suffered last week at Kentucky. USC coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday that Bentley is “probable” to start against Missouri.

Mizzou coach Barry Odom is buying it.

“I would expect we’d see Jake out there first snap,” Odom said Tuesday during a news conference in Columbia, Mo. “And I think their offense will go as he does. He’s a great competitor. I think he’ll be ready to go play. We’re preparing for him to be the starting quarterback and to play for four quarters.”

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Bentley exited last week’s loss to the Wildcats late in the fourth quarter. Senior Michael Scarnecchia replaced Bentley and completed four of six passes for 45 yards. It was only the fifth game appearance of Scarnecchia’s career.

“You’re always aware of what else is out there when you’re trying to game-plan against someone,” Odom said. “When the other guy went in the other night, with the situation that it was, we got enough film on that. It seems like they run their (same) offense.”

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The Gamecocks enter Saturday sixth in the SEC in total offense and 11th in scoring offense. Missouri is 13th in the league in total defense and 12th in scoring defense.

QB aside, Odom is particularly concerned with Deebo Samuel. The USC receiver/kick returner burned the Tigers for 167 yards and two touchdowns on seven touches in last year’s game.

“In my opinion,” Odom said, “(Samuel’s) one of the top playmakers in college football and he has been now for some time. He’s earned that because of the way that he’s played. ... We’ve seen it, he can change the dynamics of a game. So there’s high-alert in every situation to we know where he’s lined up offensively. And then also in the return game, if we could limit that opportunity, that would favor us.”