For stretches against Texas A&M, it seemed as if a quarterback change might be on the table for South Carolina.
Jake Bentley completed only 6 of 17 passes in the first half. Several were potential big gains missed because good receivers couldn’t catch balls that were right in their hands. But there were some high passes, not to mention giving away a chance a points with a troubling red zone interception.
And on the bench was Michael Scarnecchia, the hero of the previous week’s shootout win against Missouri. So was there any thought toward inserting the fifth-year senior?
“Not really,” Muschamp said. “We needed to settle down a little bit with some decision making, a couple balls here and there. But other than that, (Bentley) put us in a situation to win the game. We need to play better around him.”
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Bentley ended up rallying USC, scoring 16 points on the team’s first two drives of the second half, only to have a big drop and a penalty short-circuit the third possession with USC down three points. And that’s with, at minimum 100-plus yards worth of drops in the 26-23 loss.
That didn’t prevent some in the stadium from loudly booing early in the game, especially after the interception. It was a fade ball to a true freshman wide receiver, ideally among safer passes a quarterback can make because it can be put high and outside where only a receiver can get it.
Instead, Bentley put the ball inside, right into the hands of Texas A&M’s Charles Oliver.
Against a bad Missouri pass defense a week earlier, Scarnecchia hit 20-of-35 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns (with nary a turnover). There was some sentiment outside the team he should perhaps remain in that role for another week.
That sentiment flared up before Bentley got things stabilized, and after the game, he explained what it was like to hear that.
“That’s life,” Bentley said. “That’s really the way that I’ve always been brought up is you can’t worry about outside influences. Other people are going to try to come at you each and every way, but you’ve just got to focus on what you believe in and surround yourself with great people.
“It’s disappointing to hear that from the fans, but they just want to win too. And so do I.”