College Sports

Muschamp: Ryan Hilinski was ‘best he’s looked’ at latest practice since injury

South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski isn’t 100%. How close he is remains unclear, as he’s come through first elbow tendinitis and then a couple knee issues, including a sprain, suffered against Georgia.

But his coach, Will Muschamp, liked what he saw coming out of Tuesday morning’s practice.

“I thought he looked the best he’s looked at a Tuesday practice since the injury,” Muschamp said. “I thought he had a really good Tuesday practice today, was sharp throwing the football. A little bouncing around in the pocket. But as healthy as he’s been, I don’t think there’s any question

“He’s a competitor and he’s going to battle through it.”

Tuesday is the first full practice of the game week. Hilinski was limited last Tuesday, but took every snap on Wednesday and Thursday.

Hilinski is coming off a game in which he battled the elements a week after the knee injury and had his share of struggles. He hit a couple nice balls to start the game, but ended up with 150 yards on 35 attempts.

He had several deep balls go awry, a few thrown too far, but also had a couple where receivers didn’t put themselves in the right spots.

Overall, the Gamecocks passing game has struggled with consistency this season. Jake Bentley struggled at the start, and Hilinski has looked good at points (against Alabama and Georgia) but has also been slowed at others.

And Muschamp has hammered the point home that it’s not all on his shoulders.

“Let’s be fair here, it wasn’t all on Ryan,” Muschamp said. “There could have been a flatter route (on) one of the deep balls. There are some things that we could have done better around him. But he’d be the first person to tell you that he needs to be we need to be more accurate throwing the football.”

The backups behind him are more of runners than pure throwers, and his top backup, Dakereon Joyner, has been limited by a hamstring issue this season.

So in many ways, the offense will carry through his learning process. The health issues haven’t helped, but there’s also a factor or a young player still getting used to college football in Year 1.

“There’s a lot of firsts these guys go through,” Muschamp said. “A lot of seeing this for the first time, seeing this pressure for the first time, seeing this exotic two trap for the first time. You can’t get enough time to teach. You can’t get enough time to watch film. You can’t get enough time to rep, especially that position because it affects everybody.

“I think he’s continued to grow and mature. He’s worked extremely hard in the weight room and he’s in the film room on the practice field. He’s got a great competitive edge about himself and he’ll continue to progress we’re excited about his future.”

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West Coast raised. Midwest educated. Southern football indoctrinated. Covers most everything Gamecocks, primarily football.
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