So, lets face it: it’s hard to take away anything of significance with spring games.
This was a chance to see who would impress as far as freshmen and newcomers are concerned and we didn’t walk away without storylines to discuss.
Jay Urich’s new position
Urich made the biggest play of the day when he caught a screen pass from redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner and took it 62 yards to the house. Urich has embraced his role as a receiver and will see the field in a few different ways this season.
The only problem with the spring game was that we didn’t get to see Bryan Edwards or OrTre Smith due to injury concerns.
Kiel Pollard’s emergence
The one player that impressed me on the receiving end was Kiel Pollard.
He finished with nine receptions and 65 yards, but he showed that he can catch the ball as a tight end. The tight end position has been a little empty since Hayden Hurst left, but Pollard is the one who can fill the void.
Joyner still the backup in my eyes
As far as the quarterbacks go, I still believe that Dakereon Joyner will be the backup quarterback heading into the summer and fall.
Joyner played pretty well in the spring game, and he has clearly improved since last year. The only problem with Joyner is that he still looks a little indecisive in the pocket. He can extend plays with his legs which is great, but in the SEC, you have to make fast decisions in the pocket or else the pass rushers will catch you.
Despite that, Joyner has increased his passing ability and I hope he gets reps in somewhere in the regular season.
Hilinski impresses to no surprise
True freshman Ryan Hilinski was the quarterback everyone was looking at Saturday, and he didn’t disappoint.
Hilinski was perfect on his first eight throws. He ended up completing two-thirds of his passes and threw for over 200 yards. The difference with Hilinski is that he has the it factor that people have been looking for.
He can throw away from his body and still make an accurate pass while under pressure. He has a bright future, but he will most likely be the third string quarterback heading into the fall.
My only criticism of Hilinski is that he needs to work on his deep ball, but he still has a lot of time to work on that.
What about the running backs?
The running back situation will be very interesting heading into the fall.
True freshmen Kevin Harris finished with 51 yards and a touchdown, and he had most of the reps out of the running backs. Harris is a pure power back and will most likely see split reps with Deshaun Fenwick.
We didn’t get to see Rico Dowdle, but he will also see the field this fall if he can stay healthy.
Jamel Cook shines in USC debut
On defense, safety Jamel Cook was the MVP of the spring game.
He first impressed the crowd when he delivered a big hit to receiver Bailey Hart and knocked the ball loose. He then impressed the crowd again when he jumped up and extended his arm to pick off Joyner in the red zone. Cook will start alongside RJ Roderick at safety.
This is going to be a very dangerous secondary with those two at safety along with Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu at cornerback.
This team should look a lot better going into the 2019 than they did last year, but a brutal schedule will give them a tough time in terms of wins and losses.
The most important part is that the Gamecocks now have depth and they will need that if they suffer as many injuries as they did last year.