COLUMBIA, SC - USC head football coach Will Muschamp has not tried to play down speculation that true freshman Jake Bentley will see his first action Saturday against UMASS.
Players have said bowl eligibility is still a goal and Bentley playing Saturday could be the last arrow in the quiver for an offense that is statistically near the bottom nationally.
But as far as the offensive line is concerned, their assignments won't change - regardless of who the quarterback is behind center.
"We've practiced with all three throughout the entire year, so there's no difference with any of them," said offensive lineman Zack Bailey.
Bentley is an 18-year-old freshman who will turn 19 in November. He graduated from high school early so he could enroll in the summer at USC. The son of USC running backs Bobby Bentley has taken "a few reps" with the first team this week according to running back A.J. Turner.
"He' been rotating in there with everybody with Brandon and Perry," Turner said.
"That;s all I really know."
We do know that Bentley displayed a cannon of an arm in the scrimmages that were open to the public. That powerful arm also comes with a nice touch on the ball when needed.
We also know that the coaches are trying everything possible to inject some pop into the offense.
Above all else, we know that USC head coach Will Muschamp will not announce a starting quarterback for the UMASS game. But all of a sudden, a game with a 2-4 team hosting a non-conference opponent from the Northeast has taken an intriguing turn. Clearly, Bentley has been able to navigate his way through the usual transition from high school to college where the coaches might feel just comfortable enough to turn him loose and see what the freshman can do.
Well I think (for) any freshman that comes in to fall camp and doesn’t go through spring ball, obviously (there is) terminology you’ve got to learn, tempo of practice, all of the things that are much drastically different than what they’re used to," Muschamp said."
So regardless of whether it’s Jake Bentley or whoever it is, as a freshman those are always challenges that you go through. How quickly (do) those guys adjust? How much do they study their playbook, and how well do they catch on to the terminology? All of those things are things that every freshman works through"