College Sports

Gamecocks feel good about their offense but yearn for one tweak: more Joyner

Ryan Hilinski, Bryan Edwards, Rico Dowdle and Kyle Markway were among the South Carolina offensive players Will Muschamp was pleased with following their performances against Alabama on Saturday.

Dakereon Joyner didn’t stand out in the 47-23 loss in the No. 2 Crimson Tide, but the Gamecocks want to make sure that doesn’t become the norm going forward. The versatile freshman is too talented to have one touch over 60 minutes, Muschamp said.

USC rolled up 459 yards on the Tide. Joyner, via one reception, contributed just 13 of them.

“We got to continue to get Dakereon involved,” Muschamp said during a Sunday teleconference. “He’s the backup quarterback, he’s also a guy we feel like is a guy at the receiver position that needs to contribute and that was a discussion that we had today.”

Joyner became the No. 2 QB after Jake Bentley’s injury and Hilinski’s move to starter for the Charleston Southern game on Sept. 7. His role was bigger against the Buccaneers (five touches for 65 yards and a touchdown) than the Tide.

Muschamp said the offensive staff is working to better balance Joyner’s practice reps to improve his receiver skills.

Offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon is “trying to steal a little more time with him at the receiver position and continue to coach and teach him,” Muschamp said, “as well as him being able to get the turns and reps to be the backup quarterback. So we gotta do a better job of managing that.

“We need him in the game more than he was.”

A backup quarterback playing another position and taking hits is a risk Muschamp acknowledges. USC’s third QB is walk-on Corbett Glick.

“That’s a discussion we’ve had,” Muschamp said of potential injury concern with Joyner playing another position. “We feel like he can make a huge contribution to our football team at the receiver position, as well as being the backup quarterback. But that’s a discussion we’ve had.”

Take the points

Given a second chance, Muschamp said the Gamecocks would have opted for a field goal at the end of Saturday’s second quarter.

South Carolina was facing third-and-goal from the Alabama 1 when Ryan Hilinski fumbled a snap and recovered at the Tide’s 3. Six seconds remained and, instead of trotting out Parker White for a chip shot FG attempt, the Gamecocks returned from the ensuing timeout with their offense on the field. Hilinski then threw high for Josh Vann in the back of the end zone, leaving USC with nothing to show for a 77-yard drive.

They went to the half down 24-10.

“Looking back,” Muschamp said, “after the loss of the fumbled snap there, which we really felt good about what we had called versus their look, we probably should have just taken the points and the half, knowing we’re getting the ball to start the second half.”

Virus

South Carolina was a bit shorthanded and held a walk-through Sunday instead of its traditional practice.

“We’ve had a virus going through the team,” Muschamp said, “and we had about 10 or 12 (players) down tonight.”

The bug began last week, Muschamp said.

“We had a bunch down on Tuesday and about eight or so down on Wednesday,” Muschamp said. “I think we’ve had about eight or so each day. And I think we had about 10 or 12 today. It’s just kind of gone through our team.

“We cut back on (practice) the latter part of the week, last week, trying to help some of the guys out as far as that’s concerned. And we IV-ed a bunch of them throughout the week and then the day before and on game-day to make sure we were hydrated. And we didn’t have any cramping or any issues like that.

“It’s just something you gotta deal with. It’s part of it.”

Bentley update

South Carolina’s 2017 trip to Missouri included 187 passing yards from Bentley in a Gamecock win. While he’s still on the roster, Bentley won’t be making the trip to Mizzou two years later.

The Gamecocks (1-2) face the Tigers (2-1) this upcoming Saturday in Memorial Stadium.

“He’s not weight-bearing pretty much for three months,” Muschamp said of his senior quarterback, who’s done for the year with a broken foot. “So we’re trying to limit him as much as anything. ... I’ll know more as we move forward, but I think it’s going to be hard for him to be able to travel right now.”

NEXT

Who: South Carolina at Missouri

When: 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21

Where: Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Missouri

TV: SEC Network Alternate

Line: Missouri by 10

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.
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