Mixed news for banged-up 'D'
COLUMBIA -- Not that it's anything out of the norm, but Ellis Johnson is concerned. This time, South Carolina's defensive head coach is worried about depth.
With linebacker Shaq Wilson and spur Antonio Allen out Thursday with hamstring injuries, and corner Chris Culliver having to sit because of the NCAA, that left Johnson's defense in a bind.
It got even worse when utility defensive back D.J. Swearinger left at halftime, due to a concussion.
"With injuries and other issues, we don't have enough players right now to play certain packages," Johnson said. "We'll have to see what we can do about it."
Good news for Johnson is Allen and Swearinger are expected to play Saturday against Georgia.
Bad news is Wilson will not, and there's no telling with Culliver.
Culliver is the team's starting nickelback. So that was one package directly affected. Safety Akeem Auguste, who hadn't played that spot since last season, had to step in.
Auguste had no backup after Swearinger left the game. Auguste was still playing, even in the fourth quarter when USC led 41-6.
Without Allen, sophomore Damario Jeffery had to play about 75 snaps at spur -- well over what the coaching staff would want. Stephon Gilmore, too, had no real safety net at his corner position.
"Some of those problems are going to go away," Johnson said. "Some of them are not going to go away. We've got to look at some depth problems right now. I mean, it's some serious stuff."
Starting his first game at center, sophomore T.J. Johnson was named Monday the SEC's offensive lineman of the week.
The note from the league office said Johnson was awarded a game ball after the Southern Miss win.
Wide receiver Dion LeCorn, buried on the depth chart, has moved to defensive back. ... South Carolina opened Monday as a 2 1/2-point against Georgia. It's the first time the Gamecocks have been favorites in the series since 2001, a 14-9 victory in Athens.
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-- Travis Haney