Practice report: D-line healthy?

South Carolina will need their defensive line to play strong for the next three weeks if they hope to have the kind of finish that would send them to another 10-win season. With two weeks to rest and heal up, is the defensive line back to 100% for the final stretch?

There's no doubt that a healthy defensive line will be key going down the stretch for eighth-ranked South Carolina the remainder of the season. Two of the final three opponents, Arkansas and Clemson, run a spread offense and enjoys throwing the ball all over the field, and the other team, Wofford, runs an option attack. Carolina's defensive line has been the biggest strength all season, but a hurting defensive line struggled getting consistent pressure on Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray two weeks ago. While Arkansas does not have as talented an offensive line as the Volunteers, they are still good.

"They've got good personnel so we have our work cut out for us," defensive line coach Brad Lawing said. "It's pressure. Early against Tennessee, but for about two periods we didn't do much. Arkansas is a big challenge for us. There's a reason they were a preseason top 10."

Carolina faced the Vols without defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and fellow tackle Byron Jerideau was injured during the game and did not play. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney missed several plays with a nagging foot injury that has plagued him since high school.

Quarles suffered what he called a mild AC joint sprain in his shoulder in the LSU contest. Shortly after an incident where Quarles punched an LSU lineman in the helmet, a play that got him suspended by the coaching staff, Quarles was blindsided on Jimmy Legree's interception on what was certainly a cheap shot and Quarles said so. With help from the off week, Quarles now seems to be near 100%.

"The shoulder is fine," Quarles said. "It aches sometimes but that's just the cold. I'm still doing treatment and rehab."

Clowney says the off week has helped him in resting that injured foot that he initially suffered in high school, but reinjured earlier this season against Kentucky. Some have said it is bone spurs, some have said it's a sprain, but no one seems to know for sure, even Clowney.

"I really don't know what it is," Clowney said. "I just know it hurts when I'm out here running and I can't run full speed right now."

Spurrier mentioned earlier in the day at his weekly press conference that Clowney may undergo surgery following the season to clean things up and repair the damage in the foot, but Clowney would not elaborate further.

The return of Jerideau and in particular Quarles will help boost that defensive line that has seen some younger guys perform well.

"I feel like I'm going to come back and be a piece of the puzzle," Quarles said. "Those guys, J.T. Surratt and Gerald Dixon, did a great job and I'm proud of those guys. They stepped up and got some quality playing time."

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