COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There will always be passes that quarterbacks want to have back. For Lorenzo Nunez, that passed nearly came on his first attempt of the day against UCF.
The freshman quarterback floated one near the home sideline, but the Golden Knights defender wasn't able to hold on to it.
"I was glad it got dropped," Nunez told reporters Saturday. "It was a bad pass by me and the defender just didn't come up with the pick. So, I was pretty glad that he dropped it."
Slowly but surely, Nunez shook off the nervousness of starting his first game and turned in a solid performance in his first start. The Kennesaw, Ga., native finished the day 12-of-22 passing for 184 yards and two touchdowns while adding 184 yards on 18 carries in USC's 31-14 win over UCF.
"I think I did a pretty (good) job," Nunez said. "I did way better in the second half, I think. In the first half, I was a little shaky."
Head coach Steve Spurrier announced that Nunez would get the start against UCF on Tuesday. Nunez, however, was replaced in the second quarter by Perry Orth for one drive, but Orth was unable to complete a pass and the Gamecocks went three-and-out. With Orth struggling in his only drive, Spurrier and the USC coaches opted to put Nunez back in and the freshman did not disappoint.
"He always knows the team is going to have his back," wide receiver Pharoh Cooper said. "I talked to him a lot on the sidelines and told him to just relax. He's just young. He's going to continue to grow and be a good player. He'll be ready.
But Nunez didn't just throw and run to help the Gamecocks succeed against UCF. He even threw a key block to free up Pharoh Cooper in the third quarter to help the star receiver score on a 29-yard run.
"I was very impressed," wide receiver Pharoh Cooper said of his quarterback's block. "He's not a normal quarterback. He's a quarterback, but he's kind of different."
As Nunez continued to move the ball down the field with his arm and his legs, the rest of the Gamecocks gained even more confidence in him.
"He's a good player and a good athlete," tight end Jerell Adams said. "He gives the wide receivers time to get open. He's a pretty good player."
South Carolina hasn't just gained confidence in themselves. They've gained confidence in Nunez and they're looking forward to taking the field with him at the helm next week at Missouri.
"He always knows the team is going to have his back," Cooper said. "I talked to him a lot on the sidelines and told him to just relax. He's just young. He's going to continue to grow and be a good player. He'll be ready."