KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Moe Brown was hoping for an inspiring return to the field, and to shove the alleged words of the opposing coach back in his face.
Instead, Brown's South Carolina team lost - despite a good effort from the senior receiver - and Brown had a dust-up with his coach.
Two weeks ago, Brown was in a hospital in Tuscaloosa, Ala., after suffering a concussion in a loss at No. 2 Alabama. After taking a week off, he was cleared to play at Tennessee.
On Tuesday, Brown threw down the gauntlet against Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin for his supposed "pumping gas" comments during the recruitment of USC receiver Alshon Jeffery. Brown said he was offended - and motivated.
Brown scored a touchdown -- a diving 31-yard catch in the third quarter - but it was the lone trip to the end zone for the Gamecocks in a 31-13 loss.
Afterward, Brown was frustrated.
"I felt great about it. Everybody was great coming into the game," Brown said. "But once again, turnovers. This is a game of momentum, and that was definitely shifted within moments."
Brown wasn't responsible for for any of those turnovers, but he still drew the ire of coach Steve Spurrier.
After a second-quarter drop by tight end Weslye Saunders, Spurrier confronted Brown for more than a minute.
"He didn't line up correctly," Spurrier said later. "That irritates me. We can't get guys to line up. ... He said he didn't get the play. We have that a lot -- guys say, 'I don't hear the play.' "
Brown took the blame for another, unsuccessful sequence. During the third quarter, the Gamecocks tried three times in the red zone to find Brown. They failed, and settled for a field goal.
The first two throws by quarterback Stephen Garcia were on the same route to the left side of the end zone. On third down, Brown went shorter to the sideline, but once again the throw was incomplete.
Brown said he "dropped the ball," though it wasn't clear which play he was referring to.
It was clear his touchdown reception gave USC hope, trimming its deficit to 28-13 with 2:05 remaining in the third quarter. He caught Garcia's pass in stride as he dove into the right pylon.
"A play had to be made. There wasn't really much special to it. I really didn't run that great of a route," Brown said. "The ball was there, and I had already dropped that one earlier, and I told myself that wasn't going to happen again. You know, I just wanted it."
But in the end, he and the Gamecocks didn't do enough to get the result they wanted.