South Carolina starting quarterback Jake Bentley is “sore” but expected to play against Missouri this week despite a knee injury he suffered last week against Kentucky.
“He’s probable. He practiced today,” head coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday afternoon. “He’s still sore, but it’s a long time til Saturday, and I think he’ll be fine.”
Bentley, a 6-foot-4, 224-pound junior, injured his knee sliding at the end of a scramble against the Wildcats and was replaced by backup quarterback Michael Scarnecchia in the fourth quarter against the Wildcats. Bentley appeared in the postgame media session walking mostly normally and said at the time he expected to be fine.
Bentley was not made available to the media as he normally is on Tuesday. That was simply a scheduling conflict, Muschamp said.
“Jake’s been in rehab,” senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel said on Tuesday.
Offensive linemen Zack Bailey and Blake Camper both said Tuesday that they expect Bentley to play Saturday. The Gamecocks (2-2 overall, 1-2 SEC) take on the Tigers (3-1, 0-1) at noon in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“He practiced a little bit as far as I know,” Bailey said. “He was out there throwing the ball. I don’t look and see who’s really in back of me. He was out there, and he was throwing the ball around. I don’t know exactly what he did today, but I know he was out there. If he wants to play, he’ll play, and if he wants to get healed or whatever, Scar you are up, let’s go. We have a game to win.”
Bentley has completed 63.6 percent of his passes this season for 928 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions. No one in the SEC’s top 14 passing statistics has as many interceptions. He is sixth in the SEC in passing with 232 yards per game. He is 11th in passer rating (131.1).
Scarnecchia, a 6-foot-3, 216-pound senior from Fleming Island, Fla., was requested but not made available to the media on Tuesday. He graduated from South Carolina with a degree in finance in May. As a high school senior, he threw 28 touchdowns and two interceptions for a 10-1 team and was rated the No. 66 pocket-passing quarterback prospect in the country in 2014.
Scarnecchia, who signed with former head coach Steve Spurrier’s staff, redshirted in 2014, played sparingly in 2015, took a medical redshirt in 2016 after having shoulder surgery and served as the backup quarterback throughout the 2017 season. He was 1-for-1 passing for 9 yards entering the season.
After replacing Bentley in the fourth quarter against Kentucky, Scarnecchia completed 4-of-6 passes for 45 yards.
“The short time he was in, he was effective,” Muschamp said after the game. “At that time of the game, it was a one-dimensional game and they were teeing off pretty good which makes it harder.”
True freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner is South Carolina’s third-string quarterback. Joyner was the state’s Mr. Football last season and the headliner of the Gamecocks’ 2018 signing class. Joyner had a career high school record of 40-3 as a starting quarterback, including leading Fort Dorchester to a state championship.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jay Urich did not make the trip to Kentucky. Urich has not played this season.