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Disciplinary issue, injury sideline Culliver

USC's Chris Culliver runs through drills during practice after making a reception.
USC's Chris Culliver runs through drills during practice after making a reception.

Chris Culliver will not have the chance to miss any tackles or aggravate his shoulder injury this week. South Carolina's starting free safety has been benched for the Arkansas game.

Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said Tuesday the decision to sit Culliver for a week was related to Culliver's shoulder injury as well as a disciplinary issue.

Culliver, the Gamecocks' third-leading tackler, had a couple of glaring missed tackles in a 31-13 loss to Tennessee. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said Culliver re-injured his surgically repaired left shoulder in pregame warmups but indicated he could play.

Ward, who coaches the free safeties and cornerbacks, said it was apparent when watching video of the Tennessee game that Culliver was favoring the shoulder.

"We had a little talk with our team that if you have an injury and you can't perform, you need to tell the coaches. If that was the biggest problem, and we think it was, it was certainly embarrassing for all of us," Spurrier said. "We don't like it, and I don't like it. Hopefully, that will not happen again. That's all I need to say about it. He's not playing this week. He's not going on the trip."

After his news conference, Spurrier said Culliver's one-game hiatus involves more than the injury.

"Some other things happened I can't get into," Spurrier said. "But he's out this game, and hopefully he'll come back ready to play next week and we'll go from there."

Spurrier said Culliver's situation is not a university matter, calling it "part team policy and part injury."

Culliver had surgery on his shoulder in the spring but has not missed any game time because of it this fall. The 6-foot, 190-pound junior had a career-high 11 tackles in the Gamecocks' 20-6 loss at then-No. 2 Alabama on Oct. 17 and leads the team with seven pass breakups.

But Culliver looked tentative against the Volunteers, whiffing on a tackle attempt on Montario Hardesty's 14-yard touchdown run in the first half. In the second half, Culliver pushed Hardesty rather than use his shoulder near the Tennessee sideline.

"Some of his attempted tackles were glaring," Spurrier said.

Culliver is one of two defensive starters out this week. Defensive end Cliff Matthews is sidelined for at least one game after dislocating his shoulder against Tennessee.

Akeem Auguste will shift from cornerback and is expected to start at Culliver's safety spot. Auguste played both positions last year as a freshman.

The Gamecocks also lost their backup free safety. Spurrier said Jarrett Burns is out for the year after tearing a ligament in his finger.

Antonio Allen, who has started four games at spur and one at corner, is expected to work with Auguste this week at free safety.

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