COLUMBIA – Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason believes South Carolina will lean toward experience when sending its starting quarterback on the field Thursday night.
That would mean fifth-year senior Perry Orth would get the call.
“I think what you have to believe is the guy that has game starts and game reps is going to be the starter,” Mason said Wednesday. “I’ve been through the quarterback carousel before. You try to look at the guy who has experience and has won games.”
Orth had a solid performance a year ago in leading the Gamecocks to a 19-10 win over Vandy in what was offensive line coach Shawn Elliott’s first game as USC’s interim coach.
He completed 17 of 28 passes for 272 yards and a touchdown, while suffering an interception in the outing.
If the Gamecocks opt to go with one of their highly regarded freshmen – Brandon McIlwain or Jake Bentley – Mason, who also serves as the Commodores' defensive coordinator, will be ready.
“If they choose to go the young route, we’ll make that adjustment,” said Mason. “Football is definitely about making adjustments. You can look at all the film you want but, until you are in-game, in-series you have no idea.
“We’ll be prepared. We’ll go out and play. Whatever they give us we’ll work to handle, make adjustments and let's lineup and play.”
In his third season as Vanderbilt’s coach, Mason is confident his team is not only ready to face the Gamecocks, but to have a breakthrough season.
“This team probably has more bounds and more depth than any since I’ve been here,” said Mason. “I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys play.”
As far as preparing for what USC coach Will Muschamp and company will do, Mason believes, like preparing for the quarterback starter, his team will be ready for whatever comes its way.
“It is different, but I don’t believe it is hard,” said Mason. “What you do is look at their personnel. You try to match it up with where Coach Muschamp has been and what he’s done.
“He’s got a cast of coaches he’s been with before, including Travaris Robinson, Kurt Roper, Coleman Hutzler. Those are guys he’s been with.”
Whatever USC throws its way, Mason has a plan of action.
“You just have to evaluate the tape and see what they have done and try to match it up with where South Carolina has been with personnel,” he said. “The things is you’re just going to have to adjust when this game starts.
“The first 15 plays will tell us who they are both defensively, offensively and a couple series on special teams and we’ll have a good idea.”
Willie T. Smith, The Greeville News