COLUMBIA, S.C. – The impressions of Brandon McIlwain’s first start at South Carolina were summed up in one Will Muschamp statement Sunday night.
“Brandon being named player of the game tells you how we thought he played,” Muschamp said on his weekly teleconference.
The freshman started Saturday in South Carolina’s 20-15 win against East Carolina. He completed 16 of 28 passes for 195 yards, ran for two touchdowns and took care of the football. The postgame reviews centered on his poise and running ability and Muschamp saw enough to say he feels McIlwain is his quarterback moving forward.
It was not a mistake-free debut, as Muschamp pointed to “a miscommunication” on a key third-and-1 that should have resulted in a first down near the end of the game.
“There are some things we need to clean up and continue to progress in the throwing game,” Muschamp said. “He threw the ball extremely well. I’m very pleased with where he is. Like with any other player at a position, just continuing to take the reps, take the coaching and continuing to do the things you need to do to be successful.”
On Saturday, Muschamp said some of McIlwain’s off-target downfield throws were a result of overstriding. He also has to continue to work through his progressions, an adjustment to make for a dual-threat quarterback all too familiar with tucking the ball and running in high school.
“The game is so much faster,” Muschamp said. “The game is no different than going from college to the NFL. The complexity of the game, the speed of the game, it’s all faster. It’s all heightened. More anxiety. The good thing about Brandon is he’s got a lot of confidence in himself. Not in an arrogant way at all, but in a very positive manner of him having a lot of confidence in himself as an athlete. He believes in his ability. That’s a calming factor for him and for us and for our players, in my opinion.”
Muschamp also mentioned McIlwain’s cadence, saying it allowed East Carolina’s defense to time USC’s snaps. That issue was less noticeable in previous weeks with two quarterbacks playing and presenting different cadences.
As for possibly returning to two quarterbacks and playing senior Perry Orth against Kentucky, Muschamp said he will “see how the game’s going.”
“Right now, it’s Brandon,” Muschamp said. “ He played well. He’s the player of the game.”