Josh Kendall

Gamecocks have to finish or season may be finished

South Carolina has to learn how to finish football games, junior tight end Hayden Hurst said. He wishes there was a way to learn how to do that without losing football games by not doing that.

“I wish I had an answer to that question, maybe we’d finish in the fourth quarter,” Hurst said. “It’s learning experiences from the losses. No one wants to lose a game, but it just comes from experience.”

The Gamecocks have lost two games this season. In a 23-13 loss to Kentucky, South Carolina scored seven points in the final three quarters. In a 24-17 loss to Texas A&M, the Gamecocks were outscored 17-7 in the final 16 minutes.

“We just have to be able to finish,” Hurst said. “Unfortunately, it just comes with losses, you learn some stuff from losses as much as they are unfortunate.”

South Carolina (3-2 overall, 1-2 SEC) will see Saturday against Arkansas if the Gamecocks have made progress in that area, and that’s the Big Deal about the sixth game of the season. South Carolina has winnable games in its next three with the Razorbacks (2-2, 0-1), Tennessee (3-2, 0-2) and Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-2), but it will have to play better than it did in last three, especially down the stretch.

“We had opportunities to finish (the Texas A&M) game in the fourth quarter and we didn’t get it done,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “I think it starts with the coach’s decisions first of all, putting the guys in position to be successful and then evaluating when they are in those positions to be successful and they weren’t, why?”

Hurst suggested that having youth at key positions – all of the team’s available wide receivers other than Bryan Edwards are true freshmen, freshman Sadarius Hutcherson has been pressed into the starting left guard job due to injury, etc. – makes closing the deal more difficult, but Muschamp said that shouldn’t be a factor at the midpoint of the season.

“I told those guys you’re not freshmen anymore, we’re five games into this thing. Go play well,” Muschamp said. “I didn’t look at Bryan Edwards last year and go, ‘You’re a freshman. It’s OK if you make a mistake.’ Go play good. I put you out there, you ought to play well.”

Particularly late in games.

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