True freshman offensive lineman Zack Bailey said his group bunkered down when the news of the coaching change came down.
The offensive linemen met and agreed to stay together.
“We kind of sat down, especially like the freshmen, we talked about it,” Bailey said. “We’re going to stick it out. We’re not going to go anywhere. People that want to leave, that’s their choice. But we’re going to stick it out. ... We’re going to make this a great program again. We’re not going to let something as big as this pull us down.”
He added the linemen are hoping for Elliott to hold onto the job.
Bailey came into the season with aims of starting at guard, his natural position. That didn’t work out, but injuries forced him into action at center, a foreign position.
He came through three starts with some good and bad (a few snap issues in spots), but it could pay off down the road. Both starting guards are seniors, and Bailey played a lot of live snaps and picked up some skills that could help.
“It definitely does, getting off the ball,” Bailey said. “You know how to support your weight on each side or where you’re going to turn, stuff like that.”
Steve Spurrier Jr. said the team is close to the point of no return with wide receiver Deebo Samuel and the hamstring injury that has sidelined him most of the season. The staff will likely not consider counting on him for the rest of the season, and anything he can contribute will be a bonus.
Samuel redshirted last season and has missed the past four games after starting two of the first three. He had three catches for 30 yards.
Spurrier Jr. noted Samuel had been cleared at one point, but he lasted only five minutes in individual work.
“I feel for him, and I’m kind of angry at him,” Spurrier Jr. said. “Hamstrings are tough. He might come back and he might not. I told him I’ve got a bet who is going to come back first, he or Jerad Washington (broken leg). They compete every day to see who is going to make it back.”
‘From the baseball field’
Ex-baseball player Hayden Hurst joined the Gamecocks as a 22-year-old freshman off a run in the minor leagues. Of late, he’s received more chances to get onto the field.
Spurrier Jr. said Hurst is rotating in with the first unit receivers, sharing one No. 1 spot with Shamier Jeffery alongside Pharoh Cooper and D.J. Neal. Hurst is one of the better players in the group in terms of running and catching at his size, according to the coach, after sliding outside from tight end.
“His biggest weakness at tight end was he couldn’t block real well,” Spurrier Jr. said. “He wasn’t great at getting in there and fighting with defensive ends. When he got here and weighed 240, we said that’s got to be a position that he can play. But he’s a big guy that can run and catch and we’ve got to find a way to let him do what he does.”
He added freshman Jalen Christian will redshirt after tweaking his knee a few weeks ago. To that point, the staff had considered pulling him into action just so they could practice fully.
Players who were injured or wore yellow jerseys were: LB Sherrod Pittman (leg), SS Antoine Wilder (leg), WR Christian Owens (left foot), WR Deebo Samuel (hamstring), TE Connor Redmond (back), QB Gage Pucci (knee) and C Cody Waldrop (ankle). WR Shaq Davidson (knee) and WR Jerad Washington (left leg) are out for the season.