Gamecock secondary walking wounded

The South Carolina secondary has suffered multiple injuries in recent weeks. The Gamecocks will welcome back Antonio Allen this week, but will be without DeVonte Holloman. D.J. Swearinger has played through injury and will play Saturday.

When fifteenth-ranked South Carolina takes the field Saturday afternoon against the Florida Gators, they will have leading-tackler Spur Antonio Allen back, who missed last week's loss at Arkansas. While Allen will be a welcomed addition to the starting line-up against the Gators, the secondary will be without safety DeVonte Holloman. Holloman suffered a concussion making a tackle in Saturday's game and is not expected to play after not practicing all week.

"I would say not because he didn't practice, and if they cleared him now I would be concerned about him not getting any practice time," assistant head coach Ellis Johnson said following Thursday's practice. "Whether he'll be dressed and available for emergency situations or something, I guess it'd be up to the doctors."

With Holloman out, freshman Brison Williams is expected to make the start. Williams, who has seven tackles in just four games this season after missing the first half of the season with a broken arm, lacks the experience Holloman has at the position.

"He's not DeVonte," Johnson said. "I don't think he's nearly as sure of himself and in tune with all of our schemes and checks and those kinds of things. If there is a nice thing about having a player out the whole week is another guy getting all the reps."

D.J. Swearinger, the other starting safety, has also been bitten by the injury bug. Swearinger suffered a stress fracture in his foot several weeks ago, but will play Saturday.

"What they're not sure is if he's been playing with this thing for weeks and weeks," Johnson said. "Stress fractures in your foot are pretty common – basketball players probably more than football. He's felt pain in it for several weeks and then, all of a sudden, the other night it felt worse. So they took a precautionary move and put him in a boot this week and not put any stress on it and get any worse."

The linebackers and safeties will be tested early and often by a quick Gator backfield. Running back Chris Rainey, who leads the team in receptions, yards, and tied for the team lead in touchdowns, and Jeff Demps provide a formidable foe out of the backfield.

"You just have to do a better job," Johnson said. "Speed will test your speed, and speed will test your technique and fundamentals. You can play poor technique and be a little out of position on an average guy and recover. With these guys there's no recovery time. We're going to have to be very good in technique."

Rainey has 305 yards receiving on 20 receptions and two touchdowns with a long of 83 yards. Demps has 13 receptions for 158 yards and a score as well. The duo will put pressure on the Gamecock linebackers and secondary.

"Anytime a back releases out of the backfield there's a good chance a linebacker has to cover him," Johnson said. "With some of the things we do there will be safeties in the area, and then we'll play a little zone and not have anybody (cover them)."

In order to help limit Rainey, Demps, and the Gator receivers, the Gamecock front has to get pressure on quarterback John Brantley. The Carolina defensive line have gotten pressure on quarterbacks all season, but have failed to get sacks in recent games. After being at the top of the conference and nation in sacks early in the season, Carolina has dropped to a tie for sixth in the conference with 17 sacks on the season. Brantley, who only has 11 positive rushing yards on the season, has never been a threat to run the ball. Add in an injury that sidelined him earlier this season and you have a quarterback that is a sitting duck for the Gamecock defensive line.

"An immobile quarterback certainly makes it easier," Spurrier said. "He looks like he makes some real quick decisions and gets the ball out. Right now he's played real well with his mobility."


Gamecock Anthem Top Stories