South Carolina has reached a rather notable distinction in the reset season to start Will Muschamp’s tenure: No team has started more true freshmen.
The Gamecocks’ seven are two more than any other team. Four other programs are tied with five.
USC’s set includes two quarterbacks in Jake Bentley and Brandon McIlwain, three receivers — Randrecous Davis, Chavis Dawkins, Bryan Edwards — running back Rico Dowdle, and defensive lineman Keir Thomas. Muschamp said the transition class is always a difficult one, but there’s a reason he’s giving young guys their chance.
“I would rather play a young talented guy that’s got a promising future and can make some plays and is going to contribute to the program who’s got a bright future,” Muschamp said, “rather than playing an older guy that’s not as talented. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about and that’s where we are right now.”
Tight end Hayden Hurst came into Saturday’s game against Tennessee at South Carolina’s top catcher but had one reception.
It was a notable one because it came on South Carolina’s final drive, converting a third and 7 and letting the Gamecocks burn more time off the clock. He ran a crossing route against a safety playing off, and when a linebacker in the middle jumped up to cover a running back, Jake Bentley hit him with the pass.
This week, Hurst explained the thinking behind the play call.
“It was designed to come to me,” Hurst said. “We saw man coverage the whole week. When we ran that play with man coverage, it was supposed to come to me. Jake saw it and put it on me.”
Muschamp said having tight ends coach Pat Washington, who spent the past few years at Mizzou, doesn’t give the staff a world of inside information on the Tigers’ scheme. Under coach Barry Odom they’ve changed a lot on both sides of the ball.
That said, Muschamp said Washington can shed some light on the personnel and little things individual players do or don’t do well.
South Carolina has relied on a rotating crew of team captains this season, and Hayden Hurst shed a little light on the selection process.
“I believe it’s a coaches vote and they tell us every Thursday morning before practice,” Hurst said. “I’m not sure how they even do that.”
Hurst has been a captain three times, tied with two teammates for second on the team. Buck Darius English and guard Cory Helms have been captains four times.