Hyatt falls silent, Smith appears

Tennessee Junior Jalin Hyatt went to Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night as the likely winner of this season’s Biletnikoff award as the nation’s top receiver. He still likely went to win the award. He looked like a real guy during the hours he spent in the field just a short drive from his home.

South Carolina Defender Cam Smithpredicted to enter the season as the first round pick in the NFL draft and is still considered one in some mock drafts, shadowed the former product of Dutch Fork High School for most of the night. Hyatt wasn’t out of the question, but he might as well have been.

Hyatt caught six passes for 65 yards that night. Those aren’t bad numbers, and 65 yards is more than any South Carolina wide receiver averages per game (Antwan Wells59.0 ypg) into the night, but the courts were insignificant, ineffective, and he did not set about doing what he wanted.

Volunteers (9-2, 5-2) Quarterback Hendon hooker said he “certainly” saw additional motivation at Hyatt this week.

There were probably some for Smith, too, who probably played his last game at Williams-Brice Stadium, facing a wide receiver who is one of the best in the country.

The two competed all night on every subject except one: trash talk.

“There’s not a lot of trash talk if it’s just going one way,” Smith said of his lockdown performance against Hyatt.

While Hyatt averaged his catches per game, the explosive plays weren’t there. He averaged nearly 20 yards per reception but didn’t have a hold for more than 16 yards. He had a national-leading 15 touchdown catches and still left Columbia sitting on that number.

“I’m going to treat it like a normal game and do what I have to do, but it’s just going to be a little bit more in the tank, but I’m just proud of what we’ve done so far,” Hyatt said on this week’s podcast rich iron “Everyone (my teammates) know (it’s a big deal) and it’s just fun to be part of this team when everyone comes up to me like, ‘You know who we’re playing, you know who we’re up against in this one Week.’ It’s amazing to be on this team and we just have to come out and do what we have to do.”

Hyatt and the Volunteers couldn’t do what they wanted, which was to stay in the College Football Playoffs. On a day when the door was ajar due to the performances of the top four teams, Tennessee failed to produce their trademark explosive offensive performance.

And Hyatt aside, it was an incredible night for Smith and the Gamecocks (7-4, 4-4).

“Not even the stats, the atmosphere and seeing how we came through and fought through adversity, came together as a team (made me feel good),” Smith said.