But if college football has taught us anything, life rarely turns out the way we expect in the preseason.
The Gamecocks have Jake Bentley at the helm of the offense. He’s coming off a season with the third-most yards and second-most touchdowns of any Gamecock ever. He’s also sitting fourth in program history in career yards and touchdowns, within striking distance of both. (The touchdowns mark is all but assured with a full season.)
But his 14 interceptions were tied for 10th-most in program history and fourth-most in the country. So here are three ways South Carolina’s quarterback spot might play out going forward.
1. It’s Jake job from start to finish
Bentley has thrown more than 93 percent of South Carolina’s passes since stepping on the field for the first time. He’s a highly productive player the coaches have trusted through thick and thin. He projects to have a good bit of leeway, even against a nasty schedule. And if the past 2 1/2 years have been that way, there’s a decent chance that won’t change.
2. It’s Jake and Dakereon
This falls under the banner of fan favorite, as folks always (always) want to see the dynamic runner of a backup QB get some work here and there. USC hasn’t deployed a change-of-pace running QB since 2016, when the Brandon McIlwain package was particularly ineffective. Some comments have been made about a Dakereon Joyner package, as he was a three-time 1,000-yard rusher in high school. Perhaps this year it comes to fruition and his talents are on display.
3. It’s Jake, but Hilinski breaks through
This likely relies on two things happening more than just one. Ryan Hilinski showed well in the spring, but he has to take that next step to being ready to be a freshman starter. (Halfway through a season, Bentley did just that, but he also had less talent ahead of him.) And if Hilinski is to step in, Bentley would have to be inconsistent, as he was for the first half of 2018. He’ll have UNC and an FCS game as tune-ups, but after that it’s Alabama, at Missouri, Kentucky, at Georgia and Florida all in a row, with a talented Tennessee team to follow. South Carolina’s staff started a true freshman offensive lineman last year just because he was playing better, and if things get rough, the same is always in play at QB.