Hayden Hurst played the good soldier this week.
He appeared completely believable and sincere when he said this about catching only one pass (for minus-2 yards) in South Carolina’s first game of the season: “I know I didn’t have the flashiest game as far as stats or anything like that but that’s just the type of player I am, whatever I am asked to do, I am going to do it as hard as I can.”
The Gamecocks’ junior tight end was named one of the team’s offensive players of the game for his efforts in run blocking and pass protection, and that contribution means as much to him, he said, as catches and touchdown passes.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Those blocks free up touchdowns, and they free up Jake to make decisions down the field. Whatever I am asked to do, I will do it as hard as I can.”
That is the right thing to say. More than that, it’s the only thing to say when your team is coming off a 35-28 victory. There aren’t many teammates worse than the ones who cry about their own lack of contribution after a victory.
“He needs to continue to block well, and that’s going to be every week in the run game,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “That’s part of his job as a tight end and what we do offensively.”
The Gamecocks tried to get Hurst the ball more than they were able to against the Wolfpack, Muschamp said, and will continue to target him in the pass game throughout the season.
They need to because not only is the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Hurst a dangerous offensive weapon, but he came into the season expecting to be an integral part of the passing game. If he’s not, it will get tougher and tougher to play the good soldier.