USC Gamecocks Football

The ‘very difficult’ spot South Carolina’s backup QBs have been put in

At first, South Carolina quarterback/wide receiver Dakereon Joyner said it was the physical toll of practice that ground him down the most. He’s taking snaps with the second team, getting in at receiver with the first team, helping when needed.

But after a moment, he said the mental side, all that prep and information might be about as hard.

“Ahh, no. I don’t know,” Joyner said. “I think it’s even with both”

But that’s life as one of South Carolina’s reserve passers.

After Jake Bentley’s season-ending foot injury, South Carolina finds itself in an unusual spot. It’s No. 2 and 3 quarterbacks, Joyner and Jay Urich, both play wide receiver. Each was moved when the Bentley-Ryan Hilinski pairing seemed more than enough to get through 2019.

That proved not to be the case, but it doesn’t bother either young passer.

“I’m third guy and I’m just, you know, getting a lot of reps on the Sunday practices,” Urich said. “Really just preparing then for if something happened to be ready to play quarterback.”

He said he’s liked his experience thus far as a receiver, working on that craft and skillset.

Their coach, Will Muschamp, admitted it’s a challenge for both of them, but more for one.

“It is difficult,” Muschamp said. “It’s very difficult to be fair, first of all, I would say with Dakereon because, obviously, there’s some things at wide out that we spent about a week and a half really concentrated with him on, in preparation for the season. And then obviously, we had to switch some gears, and he’s handled it beautifully, like he does everything, but it’s hard to get the time with Dan Werner, the time with Brian McClendon, the basic fundamentals of the ... receiver position, which is something that’s totally new to him.”

Muschamp added Urich is more focused at receiver and more keeping up to date at quarterback. His role is akin to the emergency quarterback in the NFL, someone who can get thrown in, but isn’t really relied upon to do so.

Deep in a blowout of FCS Charleston Southern, it was walk-on Corbett Glick, not Urich, getting snaps behind Joyner.

The timing of their rollout to receiver was a little different. Urich started at the end of spring practice, learning the new role through the offseason. Joyner didn’t move until just before the season, after he lost the battle for the backup QB spot. Thus far, Joyner has played more with the top offense, and got a few series at quarterback against Charleston Southern.

Joyner was the four-star recruit, nearly a 10,000-yard passer with a 40-3 high school record and state title to his name. Urich played for a high-flying Wren offense, rushing for 1,000 yards twice and throwing for more than 4,800 yards for his career.

And now they’re pulling a little double duty, splitting time to help the team where they can.

“It’s definitely a grind, you know,” Joyner said. “But I think I can handle it, I can handle a lot of things. I think that says a lot about myself. You know, I’m a very smart guy in terms of everything on the field, you know, I gotta be able to handle that.”

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