With Akeem Auguste still on the sidelines due to an injury and another South Carolina defensive back facing a first-game suspension, the Gamecocks’ secondary is becoming a very sore subject.
Freshman cornerback Martay Mattox has been suspended for the first game of the season for academic reasons, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said, for a violation of an athletic department academic policy during the spring semester.
“If you don’t go to class, you don’t play,” Ward said.
Auguste, a senior starting cornerback, is eligible to play but may not be able. He has yet to practice this fall due to an arch injury in his left foot. Auguste ran Monday, but Ward doesn’t know when he’ll be able to practice. If Auguste doesn’t get on the practice field by Wednesday, he won’t start against East Carolina on Sept. 3, Ward said.
“Hopefully, we’d have him back for game time, but he wouldn’t start,” Ward said.
If Auguste can’t return in time for the first game, South Carolina will have just four cornerbacks available and may have to play true freshman Ahmad Christian. Cornerback Vic Hampton is suspended for the first three games of the season, and spur DeVonte Holloman is suspended for the first game.
Freshman safety Brison Williams, who had been in the two-deep rotation, was lost for the season due to a broken arm, and true freshman Kadetrix Marcus may be forced to play right away at safety.
“They are not going to not play the game because we don’t have the depth we’re supposed to have because guys are out because guys are out,” Ward said. “We get the ones ready to play that here, and if Ahmad has to play, he’ll have to play.”
Being thin in the secondary will be especially problematic against East Carolina, which threw the ball 632 times last year, more than anybody in the country other than Oklahoma (633).