Starting quarterback Ryan Hilinski, who suffered a sprained knee Saturday against Georgia, was back at practice Tuesday and is expected to play Saturday against No. 9 Florida.
“I think he will be fine for Saturday,” head coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday.
Hilinski was 15-of-20 for 116 yards and threw a 46-yard touchdown to Bryan Edwards to help South Carolina upset the No. 3 Bulldogs in Athens. He was injured in the third quarter, however, when Georgia linebacker Adam Anderson fell on is left knee.
Hilinski missed the rest of the game and was sore Sunday but doctors ruled he only had a sprain. Dakereon Joyner finished the game against Georgia, running the offense in the second half and completing 6-of-12 passes for 39 yards and rushing for 28 yards.
Though Hilinski is expected to play Saturday, Muschamp said Tuesday that his trainers and medical staff would continue to monitor his progress and make sure he is not putting himself in danger by playing. Hilinski was limping from a previous hit before the injury and did not return to the game because he was too immobile to protect himself.
“We have to ask Ryan and he has to be honest with us and tell us this is what I feel good about, this is what I feel like I can do and what I can’t do,” Muschamp said. “Those are things we will continue to gauge as the week moves on but we feel pretty good about where he is right now.”
Muschamp was pleased with the way Joyner ran the offense in the second half.
"I fully expected him to play extremely well, and I fully expected him to take command of our offense. I fully expected him to do exactly what he did and help us win a football game," he said.
Joyner ran and threw for a couple of key first downs late in the game and helped set up the game-winning field goal in the second overtime. Muschamp was comfortable leaning on the redshirt freshman because of his natural leadership ability.
"He positively affects people around him. That's who he is as a person," he said. "I think that you can develop that to a certain degree, but some people have what I call the 'it factor,' and he has the it factor as far as those things are concerned in my opinion."
Joyner entered the season as the third-string quarterback and began repping at wide receiver, where he played in the first four games. But with the loss of former starting quarterback Jake Bentley in the season opener and Hilinski now the starter, he is now repping exclusively at quarterback in case he is needed there.
“As far as what is best for our football team and him right now is to solely get those reps,” Muschamp said.
Joyner missed the Kentucky game after tweaking his hamstring and played at Georgia despite getting limiting time in practice the last two weeks. Muschamp continues to praise Joyner for his perseverance and loyalty to the program.
“You never know when your number is going to be called, that’s the bottom line,” he said. “It says something about his [mother and stepfather] … He has been raised right and he has all the leadership ability you want to be able to have the loyalty toward the University of South Carolina, to stick it out and see how things are going to go and not every time adversity strikes take your ball and go home. Unfortunately, in our society, that’s a little of what is happening now. … It says a lot about [his] character.”
Muschamp said Bentley also continues to help the two young quarterbacks while he is recovering from his Lisfranc injury and surgery on his foot.
“He’s in every meeting,” he said. “His experience as a freshman, his experience in three years has certainly been beneficial for the entire room for Ryan and Dakereon and Jay [Urich] as far as ‘this is what I see, this is what we have been, this happened to me, and I went through that.’ It’s easier when you have a peer to talk to as opposed to a coach.”