For the second week in a row, South Carolina will be playing a crucial conference game at Williams-Brice Stadium that could help shape the rest of the season.
This time, it is the Texas A&M Aggies, a team that South Carolina has never beaten, who are coming to Columbia.
Head coach Will Muschamp acknowledged that taking down the Aggies this week will be no easy challenge, especially given their strength at quarterback.
“Offensively, (sophomore quarterback) Kellen Mond is playing at an extremely high level, completing over 60 percent of his passes,” said Muschamp, “and a guy that can hurt you with his legs as well. He’s playing really good football for them.”
In the 2018 season, Mond has completed 107 of his 177 attempted passes while throwing for 1,447 yards and 8.18 yards per attempt. In addition, he has thrown nine touchdowns to five interceptions.
Texas A&M also has one of the best defenses in the country, especially when it comes to stopping the run. Through six games in 2018, they have only allowed 78.8 rush yards against opponents.
South Carolina quarterback Michael Scarnecchia told media on Tuesday that he thinks the Gamecocks are up to the challenge, including in the run game.
“We’re just gonna keep getting better at what we do every week, and we’re gonna go out there and try to execute better than we did against Missouri,” said Scarnecchia. “We’re gonna try to establish what we can early on.”
The biggest storyline for the Gamecocks headed into Saturday is the quarterback position. Quarterback Jake Bentley did not play against Missouri, which paved the way for Scarnecchia, who got his first start in garnet and black.
Scarnecchia and the Gamecocks ending up winning a wild game that featured heavy rain and multiple lightning delays by a score of 37-35.
While Scarnecchia's performance in that game was widely praised, it is not guaranteed that he will start. Muschamp said if Bentley is healthy, he will be the starting quarterback.
“If he’s healthy for Saturday, he’ll be the starter, but I’ve told Jake and Mike they both need to be ready to go play,” said Muschamp to the media on Tuesday. “We’ve got two guys we can win with, and that’s good to have.”
Bentley echoed Muschamp’s comments and was confident about what he will be able to do as the starter, even after not playing against the Missouri Tigers.
“As long as I’m ready to go, that’s the plan, for me to go out there and give it all I got for my team,” said Bentley.
Bentley also had high praise for Scarnecchia and said he knows the fifth-year senior will do well if he is called on to play on Saturday against the Aggies.
“Mike's gonna be ready to go. I think he showed what he can do, and he’s a great quarterback. I mean, he went out there and won the game for us,” said Bentley. “He pushes me every day ... and I think you can see why.”
The Gamecocks, regardless of who the starting quarterback will be, look to defeat the Aggies for the first time in program history. The game will kick off from Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Those not in Columbia can see the game on the SEC Network.