Head coach Will Muschamp appears to have complete faith in freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski if he is thrust into the starting role this week.
“He progresses. Ryan is extremely bright and extremely intelligent and he works hard at it with film work and different things,” Muschamp said when asked about Hilinski Sunday night. “Nothing has changed as far as his preparation. He has prepared himself right the entire time. I have been very pleased with that. He just needs to continue to progress and move forward and we’ll see what happens.”
Multiple media outlets reported Monday that starting quarterback Jake Bentley suffered a foot injury in Saturday’s loss to North Carolina and could miss an extended period of time.
Breaking: Ryan Hilinski has been informed from the USC coaching staff that he will start this week at QB for the Gamecocks and moving forward, per source. One source told me Bentley is expected to be out at least 6 weeks with a broken foot but it could be longer. @wachfox— Mike Uva (@Mike_Uva) September 2, 2019
TheBigSpur.com (@TheBigSpur247) September 2, 2019
Bentley struggled against North Carolina, completing just 16 of 30 passes for 142 yards and throwing two fourth-quarter interceptions. He spent much of the game under duress, scrambling away from pressure and getting sacked three times.
Muschamp said Sunday night that Bentley’s struggles were not all his fault, saying the offensive line and wide receivers played poorly. He said the coaching staff would continue evaluating the position before naming a starter for this week’s home opener against Charleston Southern.
“We’re evaluating everything right now, and we’ll know more as we go forward,” he said. “We’re going to meet again tonight as a staff and we’ll move through that. There are a lot of variables involved with that. It wasn’t all one person, I can assure you of that.”
Offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon expressed faith in Hilinski after he was named the backup quarterback near the end of training camp.
“Ryan is working hard and he is doing a good job of what we are asking him to do,” he said. “There is still a lot of room that he needs to grow, just like everybody else at their respective positions. But he has done a good job of doing what he has been asked to do and handling the situations he has been put in. He has worked hard and earned that spot.”
McClendon said he believed Hilinski could step in and play well if needed.
“You’ve got to be pretty confident,” he said. “The thing is, a lot of stuff helps once you get into a game-plan scenario. The playbook shrinks down, the plays that you run and him understanding defenses. We feel like he will do a good job at that, but he’s never been put in that position so it’s kinda premature to say … but I do think I have 100 percent confidence he will go in there and live up to those expectations.”