If you’re a South Carolina fan looking for a quick answer to the question of who will replace Dylan Thompson at quarterback, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
Following the fifth of the Gamecocks’ 15 spring practice sessions Tuesday, head coach Steve Spurrier was asked about the current state of the competition between redshirt sophomore Connor Mitch (pictured), the presumptive favorite, redshirt junior Brendan Nosovitch, redshirt freshman Michael Scarnecchia and redshirt junior Perry Orth. Not surprisingly, the Ol’ Ball Coach indicated that a decision on a starter isn’t even remotely imminent.
“We’re all practicing right now,” Spurrier said of the position. “We won’t determine who’s going to start next year until probably preseason practice (in the fall).”
You could expect Spurrier to pull the trigger on a decision at a couple of weeks ahead of the Sept. 3 opener against North Carolina, perhaps in mid-August, although a D-Day is far from set in stone.
Mitch, a four-star 2013 signee, served as Thompson’s primary backup in 2014, although wide receiver Pharoah Cooper attempted more passes (eight) than did Mitch (six). Still, he’s widely considered the front-runner at this early stage of the battle, and will get a lion’s share of the first-team reps this spring, Spurrier acknowledged.
Scarnecchia was a three-star prospect who took a redshirt his true freshman season last year.
A walk-on, Orth actually moved to No. 2 in the Gamecock quarterback pecking order last spring before being leapfrogged by Mitch. He attempted two passes last season, the first attempts of his career.
Nosovitch was a three-star member of USC’s 2012 recruiting class who has attempted two passes in his career, with both of those coming in 2013. In 2014, he moved from QB to tight end, although he mainly saw action on special teams.
Interestingly, in the quotes distributed by the school, Nosovitch, who contemplated a transfer last August, was the only player mentioned by name by Spurrier, who raved about the extra dimension he brings to the position — a skillset that could put the player in line for some type of package regardless of who’s named the starter.
“Nosovitch is an excellent play-action quarterback who can run the option and all that kind of stuff,” said Spurrier. “Maybe there’s a spot for him to play a bit next year also. He’s more of a combination guy, whereas the other three quarterbacks are not considered outstanding runners. There’s a spot for that running quarterback as we all know.”
Speaking of that type of quarterback, Lorenzo Nunez will enter the fray this summer. A four-star member of the Gamecocks’ 2015 recruiting class, Nunez was rated as the No. 16 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 26 player at any position in the state of Georgia.
While it’s unlikely he’d win the starting job right out of the gate, his dual-threat capabilities could certainly make things interesting in Columbia come August.
One final note on USC’s offense: Spurrier confirmed that he will indeed be in charge of calling plays in 2015 after “experimenting” with allowing others to handle that job on a (very) part-time basis in 2014.
“I did delegate at times last year, but I usually took over before the game was over,” Spurrier explained. “I certainly plan on doing it. I’ll be ready to do it and we’ll go from there.”