Josh Kendall

Scrimmage fails to settle USC’s QB debate

VIDEO: South Carolina scrimmage highlights

Sights and sounds from South Carolina's practice and scrimmage, held Saturday, Aug. 15 at Williams-Brice Stadium.
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Sights and sounds from South Carolina's practice and scrimmage, held Saturday, Aug. 15 at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Shon Carson. Jacob August. Darius Paulk.

“That’s our three stars of the scrimmage right there,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Saturday night after his team’s first preseason scrimmage.

No quarterbacks in that group, you’ll notice right off.

“We’re too slow. We just too slow. Our quarterbacks don’t move their feet and fire the ball,” Spurrier said. “The thing all quarterbacks have to do is get the ball out of their hands. (Freshman Lorenzo Nunez) is our only true scrambler. He can take off. Our (other) guys need to find somewhere to throw the ball.”

The Gamecocks aren’t close to being comfortable enough to name a starting quarterback but are faced with the reality that practice snaps are becoming more and more scarce between now and the Sept. 3 season opener against North Carolina in Charlotte.

“We have to stop training four, we do know that, so we’ll start training two and a half, maybe three and a half,” Spurrier said.

The “and a half” you can bet is Nunez, whose athleticism will get him on the field in some capacity this season, even if it’s as a part-time Wildcat QB.

Who the other two are is up for debate after Saturday evening. Sophomore Connor Mitch was 5-for-11 for 42 yards and one interception. He benefited from playing behind the first-team offensive line but was the victim of a couple of bad drops. (Spurrier: “He hit a few here and there.”) Junior Perry Orth was 3-for-6 for 42 yards and one interception while often being swarmed by defensive linemen behind the second-team offensive line. (Spurrier: “Perry struggled a bit today.”) Redshirt freshman Michael Scarnecchia was 11-for-14 for 81 yards behind the first-team offensive line. (Spurrier: “Scarnecchia did a few good things here and there.”) Nunez was 5-for-8 for 25 yards and one interception.

The best of the bunch?

“We didn’t have one,” Spurrier said.

“Hopefully, we can continue on and try to find out who the best is,” he said. “Obviously, you can’t play four quarterbacks like we’re doing right now, so we’ll look at the tape and try to make some good, realistic decisions.”

They didn’t leave Williams-Brice Stadium any more confident in those decisions than they were when they entered.

“How could we be?” Spurrier asked.

None of the quarterbacks led a touchdown drive in full-field situations. The first touchdown of the day came in an overtime drill when Orth flipped a short pass to Carson, who went 25 yards on the first play of the drive. Reserve running backs Darius Paulk and Rod Talley later scored in overtime drills.

“It was a struggle out here, a struggle,” Spurrier said. “Couldn’t make many first downs, went backward about every time. The offensive guys act like they don’t know what the snap count is. Freshman guys, they got scared to death of a couple hundred people in the stands.”

Spurrier opened up the scrimmage to see how his team would react to a crowd, and approximately 2,500 people came out to see their team.

“It is important to come in the ballpark,” Spurrier said. “It’s a different thing (from the practice field).”

He wasn’t thrilled with the offensive product those fans saw.

“Obviously,” he said, “we are not going to be a team that throws 50 times a game right now, so we’ll try to find out what we do best and go from there.”

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