Will Muschamp says Jake Bentley has been having a strong week of training camp
That scrimmage came and went Saturday. Muschamp came nearly straight from the field to a press conference, and in that moment, no hands were tipped and no choices were put out there just yet.
“We’ll watch the tape,” Muschamp said. “Today was a huge evaluation. Obviously, the two scrimmages are big in that evaluation process, but not just at that position, a lot of positions.”
The duo of redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner and true freshman Ryan Hilinski are duking it out for the No. 2 spot behind senior Jake Bentley. That battle will be for a lot more snaps when the season gets underway and perhaps an inside track at the starting job next season after Bentley departs.
Through preseason, coaches and players haven’t spoken much about which of those two might be ahead, although Muschamp said both held onto the ball too long in the opening scrimmage.
“I’m looking forward to watching the film and evaluating Dakereon and Ryan,” Muschamp said Saturday.
With many of his younger players, he has tried to impress upon them that while they might not have big roles in Week 1, if they continue to work, larger roles could fall to them as the season goes on. They only need to look to the past few seasons when players such as OrTre Smith and Dylan Wonnum weren’t starters early on and ended up starting seven or more games.
Both Hilinski and Joyner came to USC as blue-chip passers.
Joyner was the No. 206 player in the country, Hilinski No. 64. Joyner was a three-time 1,000-yard rusher in high school and threw for nearly 10,000 yards. Hilinski is more of a pocket passer and threw for more than 3,700 yards as a junior and 2,700 as a senior, despite losing much of his offensive line and several top receivers.
Joyner got on the field a little last year in a blowout of Chattanooga as a No. 3 QB. He threw one pass for 1 yard and ran for 24 yards on three carries.
Overall, South Carolina hasn’t needed backups all that much across the past two seasons. In 2017, Bentley threw every pass that wasn’t on a trick play, and his backup only got in late in two blowouts. In 2018, Bentley missed one game and the end of another, but reserve QBs only saw the field in four games (the two where Bentley was hurt and two blowouts).
Bentley spent this offseason tightening things up to combat his penchant for turnovers, including the fourth most interceptions in the country last season. Muschamp said his scrimmage capped a run of four to five good days.