South Carolina’s secondary depth could be going from bad to worse this week against Clemson.
Starting cornerback Marty Markett suffered a sprained knee in the Gamecocks’ 69-24 win against Troy on Saturday, coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday.
“They are looking to see if he’s got any kind of injury to his knee,” Spurrier said.
USC’s other starting cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, missed the second half of Saturday’s game due to a concussion. He is expected to be cleared near the end of the week, Spurrier said, but it’s possible both Markett and Gilmore will miss Saturday’s 7 p.m. game against the Tigers.
“We are a little thin there if those two cannot play,” Spurrier said.
South Carolina already has lost starting cornerback Chris Culliver for the season. If Gilmore and Markett are out of the lineup, the Gamecocks would start C.C. Whitlock on one side and either Jimmy Legree or safety Akeem Auguste on the other — with little depth behind them.
Markett’s Twitter account suggested Sunday that he could have a significant injury. Early in the day, he tweeted, “Man I don’t like the way these doctors talking about my knee,” and followed that with, “Man I hopes (sic) it’s not as bad as it seems.”
Clemson’s passing offense ranks ninth in the ACC with 187.6 yards per game. The Tigers are 10th in the ACC in scoring with 24.9 points per game.
Clemson’s defense is setting a better pace than its offense. The Tigers lead the ACC in scoring defense, allowing 17.4 points per game. They are fourth in total defense, and defensive end Da’Quan Bowers is leading the way with 55 tackles, including an ACC-best 13.5 sacks.
“Their defense may be the best we’ll play against,” Spurrier said. “You look at their personnel. They are top of the country in almost every defensive category, so it’ll be a big challenge for our offensive line, Marcus (Lattimore), Alshon (Jeffery), all of them.”
The ACC announced Sunday that Saturday’s game in Death Valley will be played at 7 p.m. The game could have been scheduled at 12 p.m. or 3:30 p.m., according to a release by the conference last week. The Florida-Florida State game in Tallahassee took the 3:30 time slot.
Neither Spurrier nor assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson was pleased with how USC’s backups played in the second half against Troy.
“We told them at halftime, ‘Either we get better in the next 30 minutes or we go backward,’
” Johnson said. “I don’t know if we got better or not.”
Backup defensive lineman Kenny Davis did not dress out for Saturday’s game due to an academic suspension. Davis has four tackles this season.
“Hopefully, he’ll get to class on time and get there every time, and we’ll be able to see him,” Spurrier said.