Shortly after South Carolina’s upset win over No. 3 Georgia on Saturday, injured quarterback Ryan Hilinski could be heard telling Will Muschamp, “I got your back coach. I’ll be back. I got you. We did it, coach.”
Less than 24 hours later, it appears Hilinski was right: He’ll be back — soon.
Muschamp, on a teleconference with reporters Sunday night, said he expects his freshman QB to play against No. 9 Florida this Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.
“He’s got a sprained knee,” Muschamp said of Hilinski. “It’s nothing serious. I’ll know more Tuesday. He’s a little sore, obviously, today. But again, it’s nothing serious. We expect him to play on Saturday.”
Carolina doesn’t practice Monday. The Gamecocks (3-3, 2-2 SEC) and Gators (6-1, 3-1) kick off at noon, Saturday. ESPN will broadcast.
Hilinski was helped off the field at Georgia after taking a shot early in the second half. On the second drive of the third quarter, he threw a short pass to senior receiver Bryan Edwards on third down. A moment later, outside linebacker Adam Anderson appeared to trip on an offensive lineman’s leg and fell into Hilinski’s legs, bending his left knee awkwardly.
“We didn’t feel like there was anything structurally wrong,” Muschamp said, “but he had a hard time protecting himself. And that’s the bottom line.”
Hilinski immediately went to the turf and slapped the ground in pain after the hit. He was attended to by trainers and eventually needed assistance to the sideline. The play drew a roughing the passer penalty.
“The Georgia player tripped over our offensive lineman,” Muschamp said. “There was absolutely no malicious activity at all. Absolutely none at all.”
Hilinski wasn’t sacked, but he took several hits against the Bulldogs. He appeared to limp on several occasions en route to completing 15 of 20 passes for 116 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers.
“They had a couple really nice hits on him,” Muschamp said. “And he hung in there and threw the football. Threw a really nice football to Bryan (Edwards) on the out-and-up. He hit Bryan in stride for the touchdown. He was very accurate. ... He took the ball to the right spots, made the right decisions with the ball. Very pleased with his play.”
Dakereon Joyner, a redshirt freshman, replaced Hilinski and completed six of 12 passes for 39 yards. He also ran six times for 28 yards. If Hilinski can’t go, Joyner starts, Jay Urich is the backup and walk-on Corbett Glick is the third-string QB against the Gators, Muschamp said.
Florida (6-1, 3-1) enters Saturday’s game 10th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 14.1 points per game.