COLUMBIA, SC — With experienced quarterbacks Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson atop the depth chart, coaches are in no hurry to rush freshmen Connor Mitch and Brendan Nosovitch into action.
While quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus wants both young players to make progress and be ready if called upon, there is satisfaction in the time for player development afforded by current depth.
"This instant gratification world we live in, it's nice to have guys who can actually develop," Mangus said. "Hopefully we can develop these guys and then they're really ready to play when it comes their time. We'd like to speed it up and have a sense of urgency in the learning, and they're doing that."
Nosovitch, a redshirt freshman from Allentown, Pa., has the edge for the No. 3 role behind Shaw and Thompson, and should be the backup holder behind Patrick Fish.
Nosovitch was 11-for-15 in the spring game for 146 and two touchdowns. He was 5-for-12 for 82 yards in Saturday's scrimmage, with one touchdown and one interception.
Fifteen spring practices and a summer of watching "a lot of film" helped a lot, Nosovitch said.
"I've definitely made a lot of progress in learning the offense and becoming more comfortable with the offense and reading the coverages and things like that," he said. "I'm more comfortable with it and it's becoming more second nature."
Mangus is working with Nosovitch on his mechanics but noted that he's seen progress.
"He can draw up his plays and he knows where everybody is at, and now it's just getting that confidence," Mangus said. "Confidence is a huge deal. Dylan was that way a couple years ago too where he was just kind of finding the way. With knowledge comes confidence. With confidence comes playing. You've got to play. The more he plays, he's going to be just fine."
Mitch, a true freshman from Raleigh who enrolled in January, noticed a difference right away in August between preseason camp and spring practice.
"There's more of a sense of urgency when the season is coming up," he said. "Everything's got to be perfect. You can see that from the coaches."
Mitch said Mangus has worked with him on head position while dropping back and with reading defensive coverages.
Mitch was 5-for-9 for 133 yards and a score in the spring game. He was 2-for-4 for three yards in Saturday's scrimmage.
The plan is to redshirt Mitch and have him ready to compete for a role in next year's spring practice.
"We don't have to make those decisions right now," Mangus said. "Right now it's just a learning process. On paper that's the most likely scenario. Again, he's three injuries away from playing. You never know. Ask Maryland's staff."
Maryland lost four quarterbacks to injury in 2012 and had to turn to a freshman linebacker to run the offense. That's not something the Gamecocks want to face, Mangus said.
Mitch enrolling in time for spring practice is great for development, Mangus said.
"Connor Mitch has made some progess," Mangus said. "He worked some on a couple mechanical things and seemed to work on it pretty good over the summer. He's got a lot to learn. When he's throwing individual routes he looks pretty good. It's a different game when there are 22 guys on the field. He just has to play, but I think he's going to be fine."
Mangus wants Nosovitch and Mitch to be as ready as they can be in 2013, but the hope is that their time to contribute comes in 2014 and beyond.
"They've done some good things," Mangus said. "When it's plays they're very comfortable with and they know very well, they're fine. It's a lot of stuff to learn and it takes time. They have to get ready to play in time. I tell them all the time, you're a couple injuries away from playing. You have to accelerate it and get moving."
One-on-one with Connor Mitch