South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst didn’t look happy following South Carolina’s 20-7 loss against Florida.
It probably wouldn’t have helped to point out he set a program record.
With three receptions for 63 yards, he now has the school record for single-season receptions by a tight end. He came into the game two behind Jared Cook’s mark of 37.
Hurst has 38 receptions for 489 yards this year. The 23-year-old is in his second season with the team and his first as a full-time tight end. He played professional baseball out of high school, and was a wide receiver last season.
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Cook had 573 yards on 37 receptions in his record-setting 2008 campaign.
Punt and pray
Each time the Gamecocks football team punted the ball Saturday at Florida, it became a hold-your-breath adventure.
Gators receiver Antonio Callaway was a highly dangerous returner last season, but had been solid this year. Against the Gamecocks, he made life miserable.
The sophomore returned four punts, none for fewer than 14 yards. He had one for 32, and only got credit for 39 yards of what had been a 76-yard touchdown return called back on a penalty.
“We have to get faster as a team,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “That’s something I’ve said all season. Coverage speed is really hurting us on special teams. Antonio (Callaway) is a really good player, especially with the ball in his hands, but that is a major issue for our football team. We have to improve our team speed.”
South Carolina came into Saturday ranked 42nd in punt return defense and had trouble with kick coverage against Tennessee.
After Saturday’s game, former Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier wanted to see his old guys.
The Florida coach-turned-South Carolina coach-turned-South Carolina “ambassador”-turned-Florida “ambassador” was waiting outside USC locker room after the game to speak to players and coaches.
His wife, Jerri, was also on hand, hugging Gamecocks players in the tunnel, as she did when she and her husband were in Columbia.
Muschamp said the Gamecocks left Saturday with a relatively clean bill of health. The only injury he mentioned was safety Chris Moody, who had to be helped off the field in the early going, suffering a bone bruise.
As for starting tailback Rico Dowdle, who was fallen on by receiver Deebo Samuel in the third quarter and didn’t return, Muschamp said he was OK. Freshman wide receiver Bryan Edwards also limped off on that play, but came back.
The Gamecocks had a pair of bad breaks on a couple of drops. On South Carolina’s second drive, Hurst dropped a pass deep in the secondary on third and seven. Just before the half, Edwards had a bad drop of his own, getting open on a post on Florida’s side of the field and letting the ball bounce off his chest on third-and-8.
Hurst nearly grabbed a late touchdown in the game’s final moments, but the ball was just out of reach and he lamented not diving for it.
▪ Junior running back Rod Talley saw extended action after Dowdle was hurt and caught the first two passes of his career for 16 yards.
▪ South Carolina’s team captains were guard Zack Bailey, tight end Hurst, defensive end Darius English and linebacker Jonathan Walton.
▪ The Gamecocks wore white pants and jerseys, with garnet and black piping, along with garnet helmets.
▪ Attendance was 89,614.
Josh Kendall contributed to this report