By Jeff Owens/Photo by SC Athletics
Jake Bentley says his injured left knee feels good and he expects to start at quarterback Satuday against Texas A&M.
"It feels better," he said Tuesday. "It feels good. I've made a lot of progress the last few days. ... We talked about it with coach and as long as I’m ready to go, that’s the plan for me to go out and give it all I've got for my team."
Head coach Will Muschamp confirmed that Bentley would start if healthy.
"If he is healthy for Saturday, he will be the starter," he said. I told Jake and Mike that both of them need to be ready to go. We have two guys we can win with and that’s good to have."
Bentley missed Saturday's game against Missouri after suffering a sprained MCL at Kentucky Sept. 29. Backup Michael Scarnecchia started agaisnt Missouri and led the Gamecocks to a 37-35 victory.
Both Bentley and Scarnecchia took first-team reps during practice Tuesday, with Bentley testing his mobility on the injured knee. He expects to wear a knee brace during the game Saturday.
“I was full go at practice. Nothing felt off. I’m ready to go," Bentley said.
Scarnecchia said Tuesday he will be ready if needed.
“Like he’s told me every week, since the beginning of the season, coach told me to prepare like I’m the starter, and that’s how I’m approaching this week," he said.
Bentley said he could have played against Missouri but the coaches felt it was best to hold him out with limited mobility.
"To give us the best chance to win and for my own safety, it was the best decision to let Mike go," Bentley said. "Mike will be ready to go. He showed what he can do. He went out and won the game for us."
Bentley said he expects to start unless he has a setback with his knee and the coaches advise him not to play.
“I’m not going to go out there and have something happen to where I can’t play anymore," he said. "But I will be ready to go. I’m not too much worried about it. ... I’m planning on being ready to go.”
Bentley said he wasn't surprised by the performance of Scarnecchia, who passed for 249 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
"I get to see that everyday at practice. He has that same confidence every day at practice," Bentley said. "It wasn’t really a surprise to me. I knew he was going to go in and play well."
Despite Scarnecchia's performance, Muschamp said he will stick with Bentley because of his experience and track record.
“He has played a lot of really good football for us and he’s got a lot of experience," he said. "I think he has played really well. Obviously, Mike has a smaller sample set but he played well with his opportunity. I’m making the decision that helps us win and at the end of the day, that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve got two guys that have confidence that we can win with. I feel comfortable with both guys.”
Scarnecchia said he had no problem with Bentley starting at the beginning of the season nor this week because of his success in the past two years.
“He’s won games and he’s helped us go from three wins to nine wins," he said. "I can’t argue with the coach’s decision because of his success here."
Bentley said Scarnecchia's play gives the team confidence that it has two good quarterbacks that can lead it to victory.
“I think it gives our team a boost of confidence," he said. "It’s me or next man up. He did a great job embracing that mentality. Just going out there and doing his job, and that’s what he did."
“We got security," tight end Kyle Markway said. "We know if one guy goes down, the other guy can step up.”