3 things I liked after watching South Carolina's spring game
South Carolina looked to turn the page to the 2019 season with its annual Garnet and Black game Saturday. Will Muschamp’s new message was “competitive depth.”
A light crowd announced at 25,832 took in the game under mostly sunny skies.
Two of the most anticipated areas were the newcomers along the defensive line, most notably Zacch Pickens, and the battle for the backup quarterback position. But what became the biggest headline after the scrimmage was the versatility of one-time backup QB Jay Urich, who made plays all over the field.
The program honored former coach Harold White with stickers worn during the alumni game. White, who died in February at 78, spent four decades with South Carolina athletics department. White was South Carolina’s first African-American coach when he was hired by former head coach Paul Dietzel as a graduate assistant in 1971 at the age of 31.
Here are three things I liked about the Garnet and Black game:
QB Ryan Hilinski looked very crisp
As the third quarterback to enter the game, blue-chip recruit — and true freshman — Ryan Hilinski had a banner debut in his first competition before a crowd at Williams-Brice. Hilinski had the best start of all of the quarterbacks, even though he followed Jake Bentley and Dakereon Joyner.
Hilinksi began 8-for-8 for 42 yards, then went 10-for-13 on his first two drives. He threw a series of short and high percentage passes, but also connected with TE Kiel Pollard on a 12-yard completion on a rollout. Hilinski then overthrew a pass in the end zone, and ended another drive with a pass breakup over the middle.
But overall, it was a solid debut in the competition to be Bentley’s backup as the starter was in for two drives, each to start a half. Bentley’s last pass was the annual “off-the-bench” play where former WR Deebo Samuel caught it wide open in the end zone.
Youngsters, newcomers make contributions
When the backup quarterbacks looked out of sync, it was largely because of the defense, which included solid plays on breakups from the likes of Israel Mukuamu and Jamel Cook, who had several pass breakups and an interception of Joyner near the goal line. Defensive lineman Kingsley Enagbare made a key play on an end around attempt by Randrecous Davis.
In another area where the Gamecocks look to add depth, backup running back Kevin Harris scored a 3-yard touchdown. He’s in the mix as a complementary back to Rico Dowdle and Mon Denson.
Even a couple of former backup QBs, Bailey Hart and Jay Urich, made a splash, especially in the first half, with a combined nine catches for 105 yards. Urich then made a 62-yard touchdown catch from Joyner in the second half with breakaway speed down the sideline. Urich also took snaps at quarterback late in the third quarter. Urich’s touchdown catch might have only been out done by his back shoulder pass to Darius Rush for 28 yards. Urich capped a banner day with a drive in the waning seconds before the game ended on a TD pass to Trey Adkins.
Parker White officially on scholarship
Moments after he connected on his second field goal of four attempts, a message on the video board revealed that kicker Parker White would be on scholarship.
White was perhaps most remembered in 2018 for his game-winning kick in the water-logged Missouri win at home. White overall had a bounce back season last year, as he connected on 13-of-16 field goal attempts following a 14-for-15 mark in 2017. Not to be outdone, punter Joseph Charlton had a highlight-reel second-half punt that traveled 56 yards to the 9-yard line with no return.
— CFBTalkDaily (@CFBTalkDaily) April 6, 2019