Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
Will Brandon McIlwain's departure be felt this weekend as the Gamecocks take on the Tigers?

More on McIlwain’s transfer; previewing South Carolina-Clemson baseball

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more.

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Reflecting on McIlwain

“The Brandon McIlwain era at South Carolina began in a flash,” Mike Wilson wrote. “A fake handoff, a hard step to the right and a cut straight down the right hash for a touchdown, and it was off in less than 3 seconds.”

“On Wednesday, it came to an end in another flash. The two-sport athlete typed a note, took a screenshot and pressed send on Twitter at 5:02 p.m.”

As I wrote on Thursday, it’s really bittersweet to see McIlwain depart.

Less than a year ago, the quarterback was so outspoken and vocal in his excitement for coming to USC. How could so much have changed in so little time?

Related: Brandon McIlwain goes from great hope to gone from South Carolina

As much as McIlwain seems to love Columbia and the Gamecocks, he recognizes that with Jake Bentley entrenched as the starter, his best opportunity to see the field is elsewhere. It’s a bummer, but I’m happy for him for making this decision early in his career.

His coaches and teammates seem confident in McIlwain, that he’ll continue to be successful on and off the field, whether it be the baseball diamond, gridiron or elsewhere.

So long, Brandon. Thanks for your time in Columbia and best of luck in the future.

Previewing Carolina-Clemson baseball

The annual three-game, three-city series between the Gamecocks (6-3) and Tigers (6-2) starts Friday night in Clemson.

The Tigers will go for their third consecutive series win, while the Gamecocks look to get back on the winning side of the Palmetto State rivalry — having lost in football and basketball.

“The fact that I have not won a series against Clemson is digging at me. It’s something I want to do,” closer Tyler Johnson said via The Big Spur. “It’s big for me. I think it’s big for Clarke Schmidt and a bunch of older guys that haven’t had that. We want to get this rivalry back on track.”

The Gamecocks send RHP Schmidt (1-0, 0.69 ERA) to the mound Friday, while southpaw Charlie Barnes (0-0, 1.46 ERA) toes the rubber for the Tigers.

Perry Orth to the diamond?

Perry Orth-South Carolina Gamecocks
Former South Carolina starting QB Perry Orth (Hale McGranahan/SEC Country)

Well, that might be a little misleading.

The former South Carolina starting quarterback is set to toss out the first pitch in the Carolina-Clemson baseball game Saturday afternoon in Greenville.

Having graduated from USC in December, the former walk-on now runs his own quarterback-training business, QB1 Athletics, in Greenville.

Related: Perry Orth throwing out first pitch Saturday at South Carolina-Clemson game

With Game 2 of the series taking place at a neutral site, Fluor Field, Orth’s counterpart from Clemson will be former Tigers linebacker Kevin Dodd.

OL excitement

The first week of spring practice has been dominated by chatter of off-the-field happenings (see above), but despite roster moves getting the most headlines, there’s been growth on the field …

“He consistently practiced hard every day,” Will Muschamp said of redshirt freshman OT Sadarius Hutcherson. “He goes after it, and he has a great competitive edge about himself. He goes and competes. That’s something your teammates notice and see.”

Related: Sadarius Hutcherson excites coaches with upside

Count new OL coach Eric Wolford among those impressed by the massive tackle. Despite putting on more than 60 pounds in the weight room since arriving on campus, Hutcherson hasn’t lost a step.

“He has got foot quickness,” Wolford said. “He has got burst. He has got athleticism. He just has to continue to learn how to play the game.”

South Carolina-Sadarius Hutcherson-South Carolina football
South Carolina OL Sadarius Hutcherson (Hale McGranahan/SEC Country)

With the tackle position lacking depth, Hutcherson has the chance to make some serious noise in the trenches this offseason.

The Huntington, Tenn., native is a player to watch throughout spring and summer practices.

Dakereon Joyner update

One of South Carolina’s top targets was back on campus Thursday and, from the look of things, he enjoyed himself immensely …

As if Joyner wasn’t already a major priority, McIlwain’s departure has made signing a blue-chip quarterback in 2018 a must.

Related: Dakereon Joyner visits South Carolina for the second time this week

The 4-star quarterback is presumed to have South Carolina and Virginia Tech atop his list, with Georgia, Louisville, North Carolina State and Oregon in the mix, too.

The dual-threat signal caller will announce his decision on Father’s Day.

Lady Gamecocks ready for SEC Tournament

Fresh off winning the regular-season SEC title, the No. 5 Lady Gamecocks start the quest for their third consecutive conference tournament crown on Friday.

The top-seeded Gamecocks are set to take on a Georgia Bulldogs team they swept in the regular season. Georgia topped Auburn on Thursday night to advance to play South Carolina.

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