Josh Kendall

Bentley buzz grows stronger as USC seeks to spark offense

Gamecocks 'evaluated every position' during bye week with win-now mentality

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp updates the Gamecocks coming off their open week, including the quarterback position.
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South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp updates the Gamecocks coming off their open week, including the quarterback position.

As South Carolina gets ready for its seventh game of the season Saturday, we’re still talking about the quarterback position. This is not the way the Gamecocks would have drawn it up.

South Carolina has started four quarterbacks since the beginning of the 2015 football season. It looks like that number is going to grow to five this week against UMass as the indications that true freshman Jake Bentley is going to get his shot are growing stronger and stronger.

It’s important to note that even if the plan early in the week is to start Bentley, this is the kind of decision that coaches could get nervous about as the moment of truth draws nearer. So even if the Gamecocks prep Bentley all week to be the starter, if they don’t like what they see or simply rethink their decision, they could go back to senior Perry Orth, who could be reasonably expected to execute the game plan without much prep work during the week.

At the moment, though, it looks like Bentley will be the guy. He will join Connor Mitch, Lorenzo Nunez, Brandon McIlwain and Orth as a QB starter if he does get the call against the Minutemen. This, of course, is not how anyone would have drawn it up, throwing quarterback after quarterback at the problem and hoping that solves things.

A football person I trust believes Bentley has the chance to be the best offensive player in the school’s history before his career is complete. Even if that is true, it’s a lot to expect him to turn around a moribund offense in his first career start. This is not a friendly position for a freshman quarterback.

Lots of folks like to point out that Alabama true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts is doing just fine, but Hurts is surrounded by answers at every other position. Bentley, like Orth and McIlwain before him, will have questions at every position.

There are lots of way things could go if Bentley gets the start. Not all of them are good.

One thing is certain though. When Tennessee comes to town for the eighth game of the season, we’re still going to be talking about the quarterback position one way or another.

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