Gamecocks ponder possibilities with potential defensive dynamic duo

Gamecocks ponder possibilities with potential defensive dynamic duo

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina hasn’t had the best luck keeping some of their top stars healthy over the last two years.

The Gamecocks were essentially just getting their season started when Bryson Allen-Williams was sidelined for the year with an injury against Kentucky in 2017. A year later, the Ellenwood, Ga., native was able to return and provide the defense with a much-needed boost. However, Allen-Williams finds himself on the shelf yet again after suffering an ankle injury that required surgery.

Losing one of their top defenders hasn’t been easy and the Gamecocks know his presence will be missed with three games left on their schedule.

“It’s very tough,” said Gamecocks junior defensive lineman DJ Wonnum. “Bryson was a very versatile player. He does a lot of things so replacing him is going to be hard, but we have a ‘next man up’ policy. We love Bryson, but we’ve got to have the next man up.”

“It’s definitely not ideal to have those guys at the same time,” said Gamecocks junior linebacker TJ Brunson, “but you try to get the next guy in there that can at least add pressure while one of them is in there. At the end of the day, you have to get to the quarterback and create pressure with whoever we have.”

Allen-Williams had 36 tackles this season with 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, and five quarterback hurries. His productivity is what has helped make this defense special. However, when you put Allen-Williams with Wonnum, they’ve made things tougher for opponents. In the three games, they’ve played together this year, the duo has 18 total tackles. That stat alone could make fans and players wonder what could have been with both players healthy all year long.

“Those guys are both really good players,” said Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp. “Just thinking in terms of last night and our seniors, Bryson is guy who is really special to me, a guy who I've known for a long time, (from) Cedar Grove High School. (He) had a very difficult junior season; it was supposed to be his senior season last year with the labrum and having the surgery. Then, coming back this year and really playing at a high level, playing extremely hard, very productive, and playing at a very high level.

“(It’s unfortunate) to have the ankle injury, and hopefully we will get him back for the bowl game. We appreciate everything he has done for us, but he and D.J. are both guys who in training camp looked really good on the edges, quite frankly, and being stronger on the edges with the both of those guys playing and playing at a high level. We wish we would have had Bryson down this stretch. It would have really helped us.

Carolina hosts Chattanooga at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday for Senior Night. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

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