Preparing For The Season: The Quarterback Room
The South Carolina Gamecocks were forced to make the best of a bad situation at the quarterback position last year.
Then freshman Ryan Hilinski experienced a trial by fire after he had his number called to replace the injured Jake Bentley early in the season. The true freshman, he completed 236 of his 406 passes for 2357 yards, 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Though he fought through the growing pains, statistically there’s room for improvement.
Last season the Gamecocks were 9 in the SEC in pass completion percentage at 57.5 percent, 7 in passing yards per game with 222.3 while the offense ranked 12 in points per game with 22.4.
While it’s not official yet, Hilinski appears to be the favorite to win the starting spot and new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has already mapped out what he wants Hilinski to improve upon. The primary focus to help him become more fundamentally sound. To do that Hilinski said it starts with his mechanics.
“Yeah right now we're just trying to work on a little bit of upper body stuff just trying to get my elbow up a little bit more,” Hilinski said in his first media availability of the spring. “It puts less stress on my shoulder and puts less stress in the elbow. Our trainers have done a lot of good stuff with me as well talking about foot plant and stuff like that. It takes pressure off my knees takes pressure off my lower hips.[I’m also working on] getting my inner rotation, outer rotation, stuff like that going. So there's a lot of lot of stuff we’re working on mechanical-wise.”
Hilinski said he’s heard the jokes about his speed and mobility with one of his favorites comparing him to a semi-truck getting off the freeway. He said that’s also been a priority during the off-season.
“Mobility is a big thing that I've worked on,” he said. “I know it’s been voiced a lot and there are concerns in the community, of course and through the coaches and talking to Bobo. It's just one of those things and I've been working in the training room non-stop just getting my legs stronger and I know that I can run faster now.”
“I feel faster during practice. I watch it on film. I might not be as fast when I look at the film, but I feel super fast,” he said. “But I'm moving around a little bit I'm feeling good I'm feeling confident in my up movement in the pocket, escapability stuff like that.
Bobo has noted that he believes the run game can help put the starting quarterback in a better position and ease the learning curve just a bit.
True freshman Luke Doty impressed coaches with how well he was able to adapt during the shortened spring practices period and should be able to give Hilinski a run for his money.