COLUMBIA — Darius Rush? Dakereon Joyner?
Shoot, A.J. Turner and Jake Bentley?
Can anybody on South Carolina’s roster play safety, and is everybody on it being asked to?
Not quite that far.
"None of us can get hurt,” redshirt freshman safety Jaylin Dickerson said. “We got small boo-boos, little injuries … we got to stick it out."
The Gamecocks’ secondary is thinner than the hair on Grandpa’s head. USC lost two more safeties for the season on Saturday and it’s created two looming questions for the final four games.
• Can the guys they have left stay healthy?
• If somebody else goes down, who can they turn to?
USC isn’t quite to the point of breaking the emergency glass, but it has picked up the hammer hanging off the case. Turner, one of the Gamecocks’ top two running backs, smiled and said he could play safety if asked. Bentley, the starting quarterback, said he used to play safety in Pop Warner ball since he was bigger than everybody else.
USC coach Will Muschamp and his players detailed some plans.
“(Freshman Jonathan Gipson) will be prepared to go and that's a possibility there. Obviously, Rashad Fenton gives us a lot of flexibility, can play nickel, can go back and play safety if he needs to,” Muschamp said.
“He repped with me today in individual and we're going to have him mentally prepared to go in the game. And Shi Smith is a guy that can go in at corner for us, given we need some snaps there. So we'll have a plan ready.”
Hearing Smith’s name was a surprise. The Gamecocks’ third-leading receiver has seen his role increase in the absence of injured OrTre Smith and is a key offensive player.
Yet it’s not so much really practicing over there as getting him to think about it, just in case. The former defensive back at Union High (where he was coached by former USC great Steve Taneyhill) has played in the defensive backfield and is familiar with what he’d have to do.
“He's got good cover skills, good ball skills, ball judgment down the field,” Muschamp said. “He's tough, he can tackle, he's on special teams for us.”
Rush, the redshirting freshman receiver who had a terrific spring game, wasn’t mentioned. Joyner, Muschamp made clear, is a quarterback.
Dickerson mentioned that Beaufort’s Jason Senn, a veteran who’s been around since 2015, is repping more at defensive back while Steven Montac described the secondary’s new approach. Play hard, but always be thinking that USC can’t lose another defensive back.
"Just be smart. Nobody get no targeting, no flags, get kicked out the game,” he said. “Know what we got going on, what we have in front of us, and just be smart about it."
Updated injury list
Linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams (ankle), defensive lineman Aaron Sterling (knee) and running back Rico Dowdle (ankle) are all day-to-day. They did not practice Tuesday.
Left tackles Malik Young and Dennis Daley practiced Tuesday. Blake Camper, who started at right tackle before Dylan Wonnum replaced him and filled in at left against Ole Miss when Young was hurt, has a bit of a knee issue but practiced Tuesday.
Running back Ty’Son Williams said he broke his left hand and wore a cast to practice Tuesday, although he fully participated. His fingers are free with his thumb wrapped, and he said it wouldn’t deter him from playing Saturday. Muschamp confirmed that and said the cast would be re-cut before Saturday.
Safety J.T. Ibe (knee) and cornerback Nick Harvey (concussion) are again out, and Muschamp announced Sunday that safeties Jamyest Williams (shoulder) and Javon Charleston (foot) will miss the rest of the season.