Josh Kendall

South Carolina defensive starter will miss practice time this week, expected to play

South Carolina starting defensive end D.J. Wonnum won’t practice in the early parts of this week because of a sprained ankle but is expected to be available when the Gamecocks host No. 3 Georgia on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium, coach Will Muschamp said Sunday.

“He had more swelling than they would have liked, but I feel like he’ll be ready to go,” Muschamp said during a Sunday evening news conference recapping his team’s 49-15 win against Coastal Carolina on Saturday.

The Gamecocks (1-0) will face the Bulldogs (1-0) at 3:30 p.m. in Williams-Brice Stadium in a game that will be televised by CBS. Wonnum, who had a career-high nine tackles against Georgia last year, suffered a sprained ankle in the third quarter of Saturday’s game. He led South Carolina in sacks in 2017 with six.

He was wearing a walking boot Sunday, Muschamp said, and is not expected to practice Monday or Tuesday.

“I think he’ll be back out at practice Wednesday,” Muschamp said. “He’s not a guy who needs to take a bunch of reps. He knows what to do and how we do things.”

If Wonnum is unavailable or limited, that will mean more snaps for backups Daniel Fennell and Brad Johnson. Fennell and Johnson each had one tackle against the Chanticleers. Wonnum had three tackles before his injury.

“Danny played well for us,” Muschamp said. “We have more depth than we have ever had at that potion, and that’s a positive.”

Running back Mon Denson (hamstring) is expected to return after missing the Coastal Carolina game, and tight end K.C. Crosby will play this week.

Big game. The winner of Saturday’s game will take the early lead in the SEC East and be considered the favorite to win the division, but Muschamp downplayed the game’s importance on Sunday.

“It counts as one,” he said. “We have a lot of football left to play, seven conference games after this one. We just need to focus in, put all our focus on Georgia this week. They have a good football team, but I think we do as well.”

The Bulldogs beat Austin Peay 45-0 in their first game.

Players of the game. Quarterback Jake Bentley, who had a career-high four touchdown passes, was named the team’s offensive player of the game. Linebacker T.J. Brunson, who led the Gamecocks with six tackles, was the defensive player of the game. Dennis Daley (offensive lineman), Javon Kinlaw (defensive lineman), Rosendo Louis (ball hawk) and Crosby (maximum effort offense) were also honored by the coaching staff. Brunson was the maximum effort player for the defense.

After praising his offense and defense, Muschamp said he wanted more from his special teams unit.

“Disappointed with our kickoff return and punt return team,” he said. “We have dynamic returners back there so we need to improve there in a lot of ways.”