Josh Kendall

Michael Scarnecchia expected to start at QB for Gamecocks vs. Missouri

Senior Michael Scarnecchia is expected to start at quarterback for South Carolina when the Gamecocks take on Missouri on Saturday, a source with knowledge of the situation told The State.

Scarnecchia has received most of the first-team practice snaps this week while starting quarterback Jake Bentley rests a knee sprain suffered in a 24-10 loss to Kentucky last week, a separate source close to the program told The State.

The Gamecocks (2-2 overall, 1-2 SEC) will continue to monitor Bentley’s situation through Saturday morning and have not made a final decision on which quarterback will get the nod in the noon game against the Tigers (3-1, 0-1) in Williams-Brice Stadium.

If it happens, it would be the first start of Scarnecchia’s career. The 6-foot-3, 216-pound Florida native signed with Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina coaching staff in 2014. He redshirted in 2014 and again in 2016 due to a shoulder injury. He was named the team’s Harris Pastides Outstanding Student-Athlete in 2017 and in 2018 earned the offense’s GPA Award.

Scarnecchia is 8-of-13 passing in his career with seven of those completions and 12 of those attempts coming this season. He was 4-of-6 passing for 45 yards after replacing Bentley against the Wildcats last week.

“I think Mike throws the ball extremely well,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday. “He just hasn’t been exposed to that many opportunities. Against Coastal, when he came in he did extremely well, that deep ball to (Randrecous Davis) was an outstanding throw. He did some nice things Saturday night, so we’ve got confidence in Mike as far as administering our offense. There won’t be a lot of change of who we are when Mike’s in the game.”

Muschamp said on his Thursday night radio show that Bentley’s status would be a “game time decision.”

Bentley, the son of USC running backs coach Bobby Bentley, has started 24 consecutive games for South Carolina. The 6-foot-4 junior has 5,142 career passing yards. This season he is completing 63.6 percent of his passes for 928 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions. He is 11th in the SEC in passer rating.

Bentley appeared in the postgame media room after the loss to Kentucky walking with only a slight limp and predicted his knee would be fine.

If Bentley is unable to play at all, true freshman Dakereon Joyner, one of the top dual-threat quarterback recruits in the nation last year, will be the Gamecocks’ backup quarterback against Missouri. Joyner would bring another dimension to South Carolina’s offense, and he received some first-team snaps this week in case he is needed.

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