Josh Kendall

Injuries an issue as South Carolina gets ready for Ole Miss passing game

South Carolina’s beleaguered secondary continues to be banged up heading into Saturday’s game against an Ole Miss team that leads the SEC in passing with nearly 350 yards per game through the air.

Former starter J.T. Ibe remains doubtful this week because of a knee injury, and reserve Nick Harvey will miss his third consecutive game because of a concussion. Ibe, who has missed the past three games, earned the starting job in the preseason after arriving as a graduate transfer from Rice in the offseason.

“I think J.T. is going to be back (this season). It’s been frustrating for him and everybody, but he’ll be back” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “I can’t comment on Nick because I don’t know. It’s just the (concussion) protocol. I don’t have any say-so on that.”

Starting left tackle Dennis Daley is questionable against Ole Miss because of an ankle injury suffered in Saturday’s 27-24 win against Tennessee. Wide receiver Bryan Edwards (ankle) and safety Jamyest Williams (shoulder) are expected to play. Reserve wide receiver Randrecous Davis missed the Tennessee because of a toe sprain and is questionable again this week. Wide receiver Chad Terrell’s return from an ACL tear was delayed by swelling in his knee. He could be back this week, Muschamp said.

Players of the game. Offensive lineman Zack Bailey was named the offensive player of the game. Malik Young, who replaced the injured Dennis Daley during the game, was named the offensive lineman of the game. “He did a fantastic job,” Muschamp said. Quarterback Jake Bentley was named top effort player for offense. Bentley threw for 152 yards and rushed four times for 20 yards. Linebacker T.J. Brunson, who led the Gamecocks with a season-high 14 tackles, was named the defensive player of the game. Junior end Dennis Wonnum, who returned after missing five games due to an ankle injury, was the defensive lineman of the game. Place-kicker Parker White was named special teams player of the game.

Still starting slow. The Gamecocks trailed Tennessee 14-9 at halftime on Saturday and have been outscored 74-26 in the first half of the past four games. Muschamp said immediately after the game that his coaching staff had “exhausted” every idea of how to reverse that trend, but Sunday night said they have come up with something new they might try.

“We just have to move the chains,” Muschamp said. “We rep our (game-opening plays) on Thursday and Friday. Maybe we need to rep them on Wednesday. Not many people do that, but maybe that’s something we need to do. We talked about that today. We will continue to exhaust a lot of conversation on what we need to do to get a better start.”