Three of the things that matter from from the 2019 South Carolina spring football game.
The backup quarterback fight was on full display
There’s no question that Jake Bentley is the No. 1 guy and face of the franchise, but this was the audition for the backup job and to make an early statement for the 2020 season.
Redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner and freshman Ryan Hilinski got their shots, with Hilinski looking the part of the team’s next big thing. He’s a pure pro-style quarterback who came out razor-sharp and finishing 24-of-36 for 206 yards.
Joyner was okay – completing 10-of-23 throws for 185 yards and a touchdown – but he adds something different than Hilinski and Bentley with his rushing ability.
There’s still a whole offseason and summer to go, but if spring games set the tone – at least for the fans, get ready for the base to want to see Hilinski play a role if Bentley isn’t fantastic.
That also means …
Will Jay Ulrich be a receiver?
There’s going to be ongoing talk of moving Joyner to another position just to get him on the field – he’s not beating out Bentley for the job, and he might be the No. 2 behind Hilinski – but there’s another part to the quarterback puzzle.
Jay Ulrich hit 6-of-8 passes, but the 6-5, 205-pounder was also a matchup problem as a receiver. He’s a dual-threat quarterback option who brings something different than Bentley, and that includes being a top target. He caught nine passes for a spring game-high 130 yards, taking one short pass for a long score.
Hilinski was the star, but …
Defensive line Zacch Pickens was the bigger recruit, and he showed off a little bit. The fans are going to have to wait to see him fully unleashed.
This was a good spring game for both sides, but there’s more talent waiting to show what they can do.
The 6-4, 293-pound pass rushing prospect was banged up with a hamstring problem throughout spring ball and wasn’t able to do too much in the game, but from all indications, he’s about to be as big deal for the defensive side as Hilinski will eventually be for the O – and earlier on. Hilinski will backup Bentley, but once Pickens is right, he’s going to be a big part of an already good rotation.
Get ready for the hype to build throughout the summer to wait and see what he can do in fall camp.
If he a big pass rusher, or will he live on the inside? He’ll likely end up at tackle, but no matter where he works in the rotation, look out.