COLUMBIA -- At this rate, every South Carolina defensive lineman will sport a club over his hand by the end of the season.
After breaking a bone in his left hand Saturday, tackle Melvin Ingram became the third Gamecock this season to sport a cast and tape over a hand.
Tackle Ladi Ajiboye started the season with a club. End Chaz Sutton has one currently, although his break is a bit more severe, requiring a couple of screws.
The others have played through the fractures without missing time.
"It's one of those things that happens," defensive line coach Brad Lawing said. "To try and pinpoint on why, we don't know. It just is."
How important is it for linemen to have their hands? Very, Lawing said.
"It limits them a lot. Until you learn what these are for," Lawing said, holding up his mitts, "you can't play on the defensive line. You've got to be able to use your hands. … It's all about hands."
Ingram said he's unsure how he injured his hand during the game. He was fitted for a soft cast and returned for another 10-12 snaps.
"Of course I wanted to get back and lay it on the line for my team," said Ingram, second on the team with 4 1/2 sacks.
He didn't practice Monday, just going through conditioning drills, but he said he hopes to return today.
Getting off the field
A week after allowing Kentucky to go 7 for 11 on third downs in the second half, the South Carolina defense forced Vanderbilt to go 0 of 8 in the department in the final two quarters.
By no coincidence, USC outscored the Commodores 14-0 in the second half of the 21-7 win in Nashville.
"That's the way we want to do it," cornerbacks coach Lorenzo Ward said. "That's more opportunities for your offense and chances to score."
What helped in those third-down situations: The defense played more man coverage -- something it intends to continue -- to simplify things for the secondary.
Stephon Gilmore (punt) and Chris Culliver (kickoff) were taken off special teams, Ward said, to allow them to focus on defensive assignments.
Garcia added to QB list
Coming off two of his best statistical games, junior quarterback Stephen Garcia was one of 10 additions Monday to the Manning Award watch list.
Garcia is now one of 43 players being considered for the award, given to the nation's top quarterback.
In the Kentucky and Vanderbilt games, Garcia was 51-for-71 passing, for 737 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, Garcia is 124 for 172 (72.1 percent) for 1,681 yards and 12 touchdowns, to six interceptions. Garcia is currently fifth in the country, second in the SEC, with a 170.2 passer rating.
Winning up front
In addition to Garcia, USC defensive tackle Travian Robertson was an honorable mention for the SEC's performances of the week.
Robertson led the Gamecocks with seven tackles, including one on Vanderbilt's fake punt early in the game. He had one tackle for a loss, helping USC hold Vandy to 70 second-half yards.
"Anytime a D-tackle leads the team in tackles during a game, that's impressive," Lawing said. "That doesn't happen very often."
Arkansas game time
South Carolina's Nov. 6 game with Arkansas will be a 7 p.m. kickoff, televised by ESPN.
It marks the fourth time this season the Gamecocks will have played a primetime game on the ESPN family of networks.
Notice about comments:
The Post and Courier is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point.