No. 14 South Carolina depends on beat up defense - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

No. 14 South Carolina depends on beat up defense

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina defense has carried it through this season, so it's not much of a surprise that the No. 14 Gamecocks are a little beat up.

Seven players came out of last week's game with The Citadel shaken up, including five linebackers from the Southeastern Conference's fourth-ranked defense.

Coach Steve Spurrier is optimistic most of them will be back, but said Tuesday it is too early to know who will be able to play Saturday against No. 18 Clemson.

Several players who have been on the injury list practiced on Tuesday, including linebackers Shaq Wilson, Reginald Bowens and Qua Gilchrist, safeties DeVonte Holloman and D.J. Swearinger and wide receiver Bruce Ellington. Jadeveon Clowney, Quin Smith and Damario Jeffery did not practice on Tuesday.

"We're not 100 percent, but we've got guys that understand that this is a big challenge for us, an in-state game and a lot riding on this football game," said defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. "We'll be fine come Saturday."

The defense is currently allowing 280 yards a game, which aren't bad numbers for a unit that was allowing an average of 391 yards after the first two games. The Gamecocks have won three games this year scoring 17 points or less.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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