Munnerlyn likely lost for the year

The Gamecocks continued their off week practice on Tuesday night, but they received some bad news on the injury front. Steve Spurrier reported after practice that starting cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is likely lost for the season with a foot injury.

"Captain Munnerlyn has a bad foot, he may be through for the year," said Steve Spurrier. "He probably is."

Munnerlyn was originally believed to have a foot sprain, and he tried to play against Florida. He had to come out after one play, and further tests revealed that he had a fracture in his foot.

"He's got a little broken bone in the top of his foot, something like that," Spurrier explained. "Those can be painful."

Several other players sat out practice with nagging injuries, but none of the injuries are serious. Carlos Thomas and Mike Davis both sat out practice, but will be ready to play against Clemson. Kenny McKinley also missed practice after having minor surgery to remove an ingrown toenail.

"He's out a few days," Spurrier said. He added that McKinley would replace Munnerlyn on punt returns, "if we can force a few."

With Munnerlyn out, Tyrone Nix knows he will have at least one new starter on defense in addition to the changes he promised following the loss to Florida. He declined to name the new starter on Tuesday, saying that every position on defense is up for grabs. However, he threw a shocking name into the mix at corner.

"That's going to be interesting to find out [who replaces Munnerlyn]," said Nix, "maybe Mike Newton. Newton might get a shot at it. You're always looking to play the right guy who can play with outstanding effort and smarts on the field."

Newton is a junior in his second year with the Gamecocks. He is a walk-on transfer from Newberry who is listed as a safety on the depth chart, though Nix said, "We mix them around."

As for the other ten starters on defense, Nix refused to specify who is in most danger of being benched. Instead he said that everyone on the unit needs to do a better job, including himself.

"Some of the guys we've had out there haven't played very tough or with outstanding effort," he said. "I'm the idiot because I keep putting them out there. I've got to do a better job of evaluating what we're doing and who's performing and who's not."

Nix has identified two key areas where Carolina has been deficient in the last two games, and it has created the perfect storm.

"There's a theme that we're not getting off blocks and we're not tackling very well," he said. "When you don't do those two things, you're not going to be very successful."

When only one player has a chance to make the tackle, he has to be able to bring down the ball-carrier since there is nobody to clean up the miss. While technique is involved with both areas, the main problem is a lack of effort, and that is why Nix is open to playing different players.

"You just put some different guys in there," Nix said. "You give a new guy a chance to play. There will probably be some new starters in the lineup."

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