The South Carolina football team’s offense puts its trust in Brandon McIlwain every single play.
Sometimes that’s reading defensive coverage, and sometimes it’s something as small as making the right call on zone read run plays.
Will Muschamp said that skill translates quickly from high school to college (making reads in the passing game can take longer to develop), but how a player does it cuts to a core quality the Gamecocks staff looks for.
“You’ve got to be a very decisive decision-maker,” Muschamp said. “That’s something that we evaluate and treasure. It’s very important for us at the quarterback position to be a decisive decision-maker. Part of that is in the zone read situation. Part of that is where to take the ball.”
He said the zone read decision is communicated by feel. The quarterback reads and his technique tells the running back to keep it or let go. It’s something the team works over and over in practice, until the finer points are almost second nature.
The baseline ability to make those choices quickly extends beyond that, to reacting after diagnosing how a safety is playing or something else. It’s something the staff sees in McIlwain, and it’s worked out well so far.
“You’ve got to have a really good decision-maker at that position to understand those and make decisive good decisions,” Muschamp said. “We’ve been pretty clean in those situations.”