South Carolina lost 24-20 to North Carolina on Saturday, and now has lost its starting quarterback. Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp confirmed to reporters on Tuesday that senior quarterback Jake Bentley is out "for an extended period of time" with a foot injury. Muschamp added that Bentley could be out either 6-8 weeks if the injury does not require surgery; if it does, however, he will miss the remainder of the season. 247Sports previously reported that Bentley had injured his foot.
True freshman Ryan Hilinski is expected to start on Saturday in the Gamecocks' home opener vs. Charleston Southern. The Post and Courier also confirmed the news of Bentley's injury timetable and Hilinski expected to step in.
Bentley went 16-of-30 passing for 142 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss to the Tar Heels. His foot injury occurred during the game and he played through the pain, according to 247Sports.
Bentley, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder, threw for 3,171 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2018, and 2,794 yards and 18 touchdowns a sophomore in 2017. Coach Will Muschamp burned Bentley's redshirt midway through the 2016 season, and he led the team to four wins in the final six regular season games.
Hilinski is a 6-foot-3, 230-pound pro-style passer from Orange, California. He was the No. 2 pro-style passer in the Class of 2018, and the No. 64 overall player. Greg Biggins, national recruiting analyst for 247Sports, wrote this scouting report on Hilinski when he was coming out of high school.
"Big, strong signal caller with an NFL body right now. Pure pocket passer who can make all the throws and is accurate to all three levels of the field. Shows excellent touch on the deep balls and has the arm strength to make the deep outs and comebacks on a rope. Very smart quarterback who has an advanced feel for the position and should have no problem picking up a complex college offense. Understands timing and anticipation, can get through his reads and find his secondary receivers. A natural leader, a great teammate and someone who looks like a future captain at the next level. Mobility and being able to avoid a pass rush is an area he can improve on. Throws well on the run, rolling out to his left or right but can struggle to make a defender miss and extend a play. Impact upper-tier Power 5 starter and a player who should hear his name fairly early in the NFL Draft."
Muschamp commented on the progress of his freshman quarterback on Sunday, prior to the diagnosis of Bentley's injury.
"Ryan is extremely bright, extremely intelligent. He works hard at it, as far as the film work and different things are concerned, so he is -- nothing's changed, as far as his preparation. He's prepared himself the right way the entire time, so I've been very pleased with that."
The Gamecocks need that preparation to produce results quickly -- as in, this weekend. The Gamecocks host Alabama in Week 3, follow that up with a road trip to Missouri and then host Kentucky before their first bye week of the season.