Josh Kendall

‘Keep them competing’: Gamecocks’ QB battle closes in on crunch time

USC quarterback Connor Mitch
USC quarterback Connor Mitch mbergen@thestate.com

It seems like Steve Spurrier wants to name a starting quarterback almost as bad as his fan base wants him to.

On Wednesday, South Carolina’s head football coach said he felt like he had a pretty good idea who his top two quarterbacks are and later in the day that he expected to name a starter “in the very near future.” Then Thursday night’s radio show came and went with no announcement. Same for a Friday evening practice. The Gamecocks held their second scrimmage of the preseason Saturday morning at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Afterward, still no starter.

So what happened?

“Nothing happened,” Spurrier said. “Nothing keeps happening.”

This is what he means: Sophomore Connor Mitch was 5-for-10 for 71 yards and two interceptions Saturday. Junior Perry Orth was 5-for-10 for 56 yards. Freshman Michael Scarnecchia was 6-of-10 for 58 yards. Freshman Lorenzo Nunez, who has been eliminated from the battle to be the full-time starter but will play this season, was 3-for-3 for 44 yards.

None of them threw a scoring pass. None of them looked like he was ready to be named a starter apparently. (Saturday’s scrimmage was closed to the public and media.)

“It’d be easy to say, ‘This is the guy, let’s go,’ but then you have to be fair and this, that and the other. Keep them competing,” Spurrier said. “We will know something maybe the middle of this week.”

South Carolina opens the season in 12 days when it faces North Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. The Gamecocks are one of eight SEC teams yet to name a starting quarterback. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt are at least giving some thought to more than one player under center.

Spurrier was much happier with his offense’s overall production Saturday despite remaining undecided on his quarterback choices. The Gamecock offense scored five touchdowns and got a 52-yard field goal from Elliott Fry.

Brandon Wilds, who had a 70-yard scoring run, said he and his offensive teammates aren’t anxious to know who will start against the Tar Heels.

“I like to run the ball,” he said. “I like a good quarterback that spreads the offense out. That’s up to Coach Spurrier. That’s up in the air.”

Still.

“Somebody will run out there first,” Spurrier said. “I’ll guarantee you that.”

Pause. Grin.

“You know what we could do, though?” he said. “I remember one year we put two of them out there and one of them played receiver. We might do that. We could actually put all four of them out there and say all four of them started.”

It’s going to be an interesting 12 days.

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