One observer pointed out that South Carolina losing linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams against Louisiana Tech on Saturday might not hurt because the Gamecocks would be playing nickel defense most of the time.
That wasn’t all that true in the moment, and with the news he will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, it will be a tall task replacing the senior from Georgia.
Allen-Williams is listed as a linebacker, specifically the strongside linebacker who first gives way for a fifth defensive back. But USC’s staff showed a willingness to play him at the spot even when some offenses deployed a third receiver.
When the Gamecocks did go with five DBs, Allen-Williams often slid over to Buck defensive end, allowing for extra speed and versatility on the field.
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It will take a village to replace all that.
“It’s going to be a combination of guys,” Gamecocks coach Will Mushcamp said. “I think Dennis Wonnum is playing really good football for us. He’s a guy who can play both end and Buck. We’re kind of borrowing back and forth between positions right now. Keir Thomas is playing inside and outside. Dante (Sawyer is) playing inside and outside. Brad Johnson’s a man that needs to keep coming. Danny Fennell had a couple good pressures [vs La Tech], I believe had our only sack.”
Muschamp went on to say the staff is excited about Johnson and Aaron Sterling, who has played a decent amount at end. Fennell registered his first career sack Saturday, and Johnson saw his first action on defense.
Allen-Williams showed a lot, not only in rushing the passer, but in terms of covering certain kinds of player and working in the flats. He had two sacks and an interception in the first three games, and had picks in his last two games a season ago.
Muschamp said Allen-Williams went through a non-contact practice on Tuesday and his shoulder didn’t feel right. By Friday, details were in place for surgery.
The Gamecocks already have one linebacker who has a reset on his senior year in Skai Moore.
“I talked to Bryson almost every day,” Moore said. “So I’m in his ear talking to him, keeping his head up. And you know he’s a real positive guy. He always looks on the bright side of things, so he’ll be all right for sure.”