The defensive line rotation will be set as soon as freshman Phillip Dukes returns from a concussion.
Dukes has missed three practices and won’t return until he has cleared the training staff’s cognitive testing, but he will be the No. 2 defensive tackle upon his return, defensive line coach Brad Lawing said Tuesday.
Dukes and Gerald Dixon Jr. will back up Byron Jerideau and Kelcy Quarles on the inside, and Aldrick Forham and Chaz Sutton will back up Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor at end, Lawing said.
Dukes was a four-star prospect coming out of Manning two years ago but a leg injury last fall necessitated a redshirt season in 2011.
“He’s done well,” Lawing said. “I am looking forward to him getting back out there.”
Lawing still hasn’t found a true replacement for Travian Robertson, who served as the team’s “push guy” last year, he said. Robertson’s stout presence pushing the middle of the offensive line allowed the remaining defensive linemen more freedom, but the defensive line may have a different look this year, Lawing has decided.
“I have got several guys that are giving some push,” Lawing said. “In passing situations, I may have changed my philosophy some. We’ll see.”
The new philosophy?
“If you’ve got legs, you use legs,” Lawing said. “If you’ve got a big (behind), use that (behind) and push. I’ve got some legs (this year).”
The Gamecocks worked out for two hours Tuesday morning in their second practice after dividing into a scout team and regulars.
“We have been watching a lot of tape the past week or so,” Lawing said. “We have to play. If we take care of our business, then the game takes care of itself. We have to go out there and play hard, play assignment football, play fundamental football, play fast and make plays.”
Starting linebacker Reginald Bowens (groin) and reserve wide receiver Damiere Byrd (shoulder sprain) did not practice. The Gamecocks will hold their final two-a-day practice session today.
Senior cornerback Akeem Auguste, who learned Monday that he will miss at least three games this season, is recovering mentally from the news, secondary coach Grady Brown said. Auguste missed 12 of 13 games last year due to a foot injury.
“He’s doing well,” Brown said. “He was down early on when he initially injured.
Day by day, time heals all wounds, and he’s getting better and better.”
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