Junior linebacker Shaq Wilson, South Carolina’s leading tackler a year ago, probably is done for the season, assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson said Thursday.
“He won’t play anymore this year, I don’t think. He could play again, but he’s not going to be full speed,” Johnson said. “He wasn’t full speed against Auburn.”
Wilson, who had 85 stops a year ago, missed the first three games of the season with a severely pulled hamstring. He returned to notch seven tackles and recover two fumbles against Auburn, but he wasn’t his old self, Johnson said.
“He’s smarter than the rest of them. He was in position,” Johnson said. “He made a lot of plays, but there were a lot of plays he couldn’t make and he knows it.”
The good news for South Carolina is that safety DeVonte Holloman will return for Saturday’s game against No. 1 Alabama. Holloman left the Auburn game because of a concussion but has been practicing since Wednesday.
“He’s had two really good days of practice,” Johnson said.
Sophomore D.J. Swearinger will start opposite Holloman at free safety. Swearinger is replacing Akeem Auguste as the starter at that spot.
Freshman defensive end Chaz Sutton will be limited to playing on third downs, Johnson said, because he broke a small bone in his hand that requires a club cast.
“It’s very difficult for defensive linemen to play with one of those things if they can’t get their hands on people,” Johnson said.
Johnson has questions about the quality of his defense two days before it faces the SEC’s top scoring offense, he said. The Crimson Tide averages 37.8 points per game.
“I haven’t been very pleased with them overall as far as the consistency of play and some of the missed assignments, the fundamentals of tackling and those kind of things,” he said. “It’s just been very disappointing, but their effort and their competitiveness and their poise in tight situations such as red zone, they have really been a bunch of fighters. I have been really pleased with that.”