It wasn’t long ago when South Carolina football discussion started with a quarterback debate.
But since Jake Bentley has returned to good health, the Gamecocks have gone 2-1 and the push for Michael Scarnecchia has died down. It’ll be Bentley starting for the 28th time in his career Saturday when USC (5-3, 4-3 SEC) travels to face No. 19 Florida (6-3, 4-3).
The Gators, meanwhile, don’t have that kind of QB certainty.
Feleipe Franks started last week’s loss to Missouri, but was pulled in the second half for Kyle Trask. In Trask’s first extended action of his career, the sophomore completed 10 of 18 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. Among the SEC’s 14 starting QBs, Franks has slipped to 12th in completion percentage (55.6), 10th in yards per attempt (7.1) and eighth in rating (133.25).
The Gators have dropped consecutive games by a combined score of 74-34.
UF coach Dan Mullen said Monday that all options are on the table.
“We’ll look and see how practice goes,” Mullen told reporters during a news conference in Gainesville. “We might play two quarterbacks, we might play three. I want to see. We’re still putting the game plan together and I just want to see, as we put the game plan together and we go out and practice it, who gives us the best chance to win.
“That’s kind of how we’ve done it throughout the whole year.”
Franks made eight starts last season, the final in the Jim McElwain era at Florida. The 6-foot-6, 227-pound sophomore has career totals of 3,033 yards, 25 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He went of 10 of 25 for 174 yards and a pick in UF’s loss to Carolina last year in Columbia.
Trask is a 6-5, 234-pounder who missed all of last year with an injury.
“He throws a nice ball,” Mullen said of Trask. “He runs hard. He’s got good size. Very similar to Feleipe. Feleipe probably has a little stronger arm, probably a little more athletic. Trask might be a little bit more physical when he runs the ball.”
Mullen’s third option? It’s likely Emory Jones.
Jones is a true freshman and former four-star recruit who picked the Gators over pursuit from the likes of Ohio State, FSU, Auburn and Alabama. He’s appeared twice this season, including two weeks ago when he carried four times for 12 yards in the loss to Georgia.
Mullen on Monday seemed hesitant to rush Jones into full-duty anytime soon.
“You got to look at Emory within his development,” Mullen said. “There’s an injustice to put guys on the field before they’re completely ready to go play. Now if I think Emory’s completely ready to go play, we could go play him. If he’s going to give us the best chance to win, we’ll go do that.
“But there’s also a lot of discussion, too, you have to have with his overall development. I’d fare to say Feleipe probably played before he was ready to play. And that’s hurt his development. I’ll be honest with you, when I got here in 2005 (as Florida’s offensive coordinator), Chris Leak played before he was ready to play. And that hurt his development.
“So I think you have to be careful when saying, ‘Hey, let’s throw this guy out there.’”