Breaking Down the Quarterbacks
Aug. 11, 2017
Unlike a year ago where questions abounded at nearly every spot, especially at the skill positions, the Gamecocks enter 2017 with 10 returning starters on the offensive side of the ball. That situation should allow offensive coordinator Kurt Roper to open up the attack a little more to utilize an array of experienced weapons. The Gamecocks return 77 percent of their rushing yards, 53 percent of their passing yards and 97 percent of their receiving yards from a year ago.
The key figure in making the engine run is quarterback Jake Bentley. The sophomore signal-caller, who had just stepped foot on the Columbia campus at this time a year ago, enters the fall as the unquestioned starter after being pressed into duty midway through the 2016 campaign. Despite playing in just seven games, Bentley shared Steve Wadiak Most Valuable Player honors with Deebo Samuel. He also was selected as the Carolina Male New Student-Athlete of the Year after completing nearly two-thirds of his passes for 1,420 yards and nine touchdowns against just four interceptions. He saved his best performance for last, when he set the school record for bowl games and Birmingham Bowl records for passes completed (32), yards passing (390) and total offense (381), in an overtime loss to USF. The son of Carolina running backs coach Bobby Bentley, Jake also has demonstrated solid leadership skills, especially considering how short of time he’s been on campus, and spends hours upon end in the film room. Now with a spring and summer under his belt, the expectations for the young signal-caller only increase. A key for the Gamecocks’ success in 2017 will be to keep the 6-3, 220-pounder healthy all season as depth at the position is thin.
Redshirt junior Michael Scarnecchia figures to be the next man up if something happens to Bentley. Scarnecchia, a 6-4, 209-pounder from Fleming Island, Fla., missed all of the 2016 season after undergoing surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. He is a traditional dropback passer who has shown an impressive arm and can make all the throws.
True freshman Jay Urich is the only other scholarship quarterback on campus. The 6-4, 194-pounder from Wren High School in Piedmont, S.C. is considered more of a dual-threat quarterback who could play a role with his ability to make plays with both his arms and legs.
Junior Danny Gordon, redshirt freshman Bailey Hart and true freshman Darius Douglas all are walk-ons to the program and add depth to the position. Gordon will likely serve as the holder on special teams.
Danny Gordon Jr.
Jake Bentley So.
Bailey Hart R-Fr.
Darius Douglas Fr.
Jay Urich Fr.