USC Gamecocks Football

How South Carolina is handling Ryan Hilinski in practice as he’s expected to play UF

The question had been lingering since a Georgia defensive lineman flew into the side of South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski’s knee.

It was sprained, the staff said, and he was on track to play against Florida as of Sunday.

On Tuesday, the same optimistic message came from the South Carolina operations building.

“Ryan practiced today,” Muschamp said. “Think he’ll be fine for Saturday.

“He wore a brace, but it was fine.”

Hilinski completed 15 of 20 passes in Saturday’s upset of Georgia, including a 42-yard strike to Bryan Edwards for USC’s only offensive score.

Teammates Chavis Dawkins and Ernest Jones said Hilinski was doing well on the field Tuesday morning.

“He looked real good today at practice,” running back Tavien Feaster said. “He got a little banged up, but he’s ready for another one.”

A defender also weighed in with his perspective.

“He was limited but he was out there and everything is looking good,” senior linebacker T.J. Brunson said. “I am sure he’ll be ready to go.”

Hilinski has thrown for 1,024 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions in five games this season. He had to come in for an injured Jake Bentley in the season’s second game and put up 324 yards in a loss to Alabama a week later.

Then came a sore elbow and bad game against Missouri, a solid bounce back in a win against Kentucky and playing his part in the UGA win.

Hilinski was a top-75 national recruit and one of the top prospects the staff has brought in the past few seasons.

His knee sprain, which looked like it could be much worse in the moment it happened, forced Dakereon Joyner to step up. Joyner threw for 39 yards on 12 attempts and had 28 rushing yards. Perhaps more importantly, he had no disastrous plays (sacks, turnovers) and only took one loss across nearly two quarters and overtime.

The situation forces some adjustments in South Carolina’s handling of QBs this week.

There’s a fine balance between getting Hilinski, still a young passer, the reps needed before facing No. 9 Florida and giving him time to rest the knee and heal.

“That’s really kind of up to our medical staff,” Muschamp said. “They tell me what they think he can and can’t do. And then we’ve got to obviously ask Ryan and he’s just gotta be honest with us and tell us, this is what I feel good about, this is what I think I can do and what I can’t do. So those are are things we’ll continue to gauge as the week moves on, we feel pretty good about where he is right now.”

NEXT

Who: South Carolina vs. Florida

When: noon Saturday, Oct. 19

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium

TV: ESPN

Line: Florida by 6

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