Josh Kendall

Joyner got some first-team reps in practice. This is USC’s plan for freshman QB

There’s a segment of the South Carolina fan base that has been very eager to see true freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner play this season. Those people might get their chance this week.

With starting quarterback Jake Bentley nursing a minor knee injury, the Gamecocks have given Joyner, their third-string quarterback, practice repetitions with the first team this week just in case. Senior Michael Scarnecchia will start for South Carolina if Bentley cannot, Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp said.

Scarnecchia, a 6-foot-3 senior, brings the same pocket-passer style as Bentley, but Joyner is a dual-threat quarterback who was the headliner of South Carolina’s 2018 signing class. The Gamecocks’ offense would look much different with Joyner at the helm.

“It’s the same with Michael Scarnecchia or anyone,” Muschamp said. “We’re going to call the things they can handle and not just throw the whole playbook at them. I would say there are certain things Dakereon does extremely well. When he is in there, those are plays we are calling.”

Joyner was South Carolina’s Mr. Football in 2017. He was 40-3 as the starter at Fort Dorchester High School and won a state title. Joyner threw for 9,745 yards, rushed for another 3,324 and accounted for 157 total touchdowns in his high school career.

He has not played this season, and Muschamp has said several times Joyner needs to develop his passing before he’s ready to be an effective college quarterback. However, the Gamecocks may not have a choice this week if Bentley can’t play and Scarnecchia suffers an injury against Missouri on Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium.

“He got some snaps today with the first group and is a guy that continues to progress well and we’ll see how it goes,” Muschamp said.

South Carolina won’t develop a special package for Joyner to run if he has to go into the game but will identify this week what he is most comfortable with in the current offensive system, Muschamp said.

“Those are things that are part of what we do anyways, whether it is the run game or whatever it is,” Muschamp said. “It is just thing he feels more comfortable with. And it’s no different with Mike. There are certain things he may feel more comfortable with than Jake does, so we are going to identify those things that he feels comfortable with and go with those things.”

A new NCAA rule would allow Joyner to play in four games this season without losing a year of eligibility. He enrolled at South Carolina in January and participated in spring practice with the Gamecocks.