South Carolina was thrown a bit of a curveball in the opening game of the season, losing senior quarterback Jake Bentley to a foot injury. Bentley has since had surgery on his injured foot and Ryan Hilinski has taken over as the starter. But Bentley‘s absence has also impacted the roles of Dakeren Joyner and Jay Urich, both of whom spent the spring in the quarterback room. Urich is practicing with the wide receivers and being briefed on the game plan from the play caller‘s perspective. Meanwhile, Joyner is pulling double-duty, working out at both wide receiver and quarterback as the coaching staff searches for the best way to put his abilities to use. Joyner has invited the challenge, “It‘s definitely a grind, but I can handle it.”
The players have echoed Will Muschamp‘s assertion that there are plenty of goals, including the East division title, that are still out there for the Gamecocks. But at 1-2 overall and 0-1 in SEC play, Saturday‘s game at Missouri is close to must-win territory to keep that hope alive. As such, cornerback Jayce Horn said South Carolina was practicing like a “desperate team.” What does a desperate team look like? According to Joyner, “A dangerous team. You‘ll see what that looks like Saturday.”
Not only will the Gamecocks be tangling with a divisional foe they see each season, they’ll be facing a familiar face at quarterback. Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant attended Wren high school with Urich and the two have remained close. “That‘s my brother,” said Urich.
Tight end Kyle Markway is still on the search for tickets for friends and family as he grew up in the state of Missouri. The Tigers recruited Markway, but did not offer a scholarship, determining he didn‘t fit their offense. In the end, Markway is where he wanted to be, “There were schools that were better options, like South Carolina. It always fired me up to play those guys, but I‘ve had good luck against them with three wins, so I‘m happy to be here now.”
South Carolina and Missouri kick off at 4pm, Saturday. The Gamecocks won the 2017 meeting at Faurot Field 31-13, but are listed as a 9.5-point underdog in this matchup.