David Cloninger

Commentary: USC quarterback discussion should center on McIlwain

QB Brandon McIlwain leads Gamecocks in 2016 spring football game

Brandon McIlwain was 19-of-26 passing with two touchdown passes and one rushing score in the 2016 South Carolina football spring game.
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Brandon McIlwain was 19-of-26 passing with two touchdown passes and one rushing score in the 2016 South Carolina football spring game.

Will Muschamp said there’s no answer, and he’s the coach, so there’s no answer.

I’d say it’s at least penciled in.

Brandon McIlwain looked the best of South Carolina’s quarterbacks on Saturday. Granted, Perry Orth and Lorenzo Nunez didn’t play, but I saw them play last year, and McIlwain brings more to the table than they do.

He was polished in his throws. He had a better touch on downfield passes than Connor Mitch, who figures to be among the challengers for the job. He led the team, his teammates talking afterward how impressed they were with him, even after just 15 practices.

On a team with not very many offensive playmakers, McIlwain was able to piece together some strong drives, keep things moving with his legs when he had to and find his open receivers. “Deliberate” will be a term used to describe the Gamecocks’ offense next year, and McIlwain seems to understand that while he might want to take a shot, a chance to get the crowd into it after a spectacular touchdown, USC doesn’t have the playmakers to do it or the defense to hold off the opponent for very long.

“Lot of command, lot of maturity. I think he throws the ball extremely well,” Muschamp said. “I thought the decision-making was very good and the one-minute drive was impressive.”

Experience has its place and Orth has that, and he can get back the time he lost because of his collarbone injury during the summer. Talent also has its place and McIlwain displayed that under center on Saturday.

Those No. 11 jerseys you bought for Pharoh Cooper last year can be re-used, you know.

They should get plenty of use in the fall.

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