Maybe for the first time all season, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp had good injury news Sunday, which is an especially good thing this week as the Gamecocks prepare to face No. 2 Clemson.
All the players who haven’t already been out because of long-term injuries are expected to be available when South Carolina (6-4) plays in Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m. That includes safety Jaycee Horn and defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who were injured in Saturday’s 49-9 win against Chattanooga.
“We should be fine moving forward,” Muschamp said.
Horn suffered an ankle sprain against the Mocs. He is sixth on the team in tackles with 39 and is tied for the team lead (along with senior Keisean Nixon) with eight pass breakups.
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“Jaycee Horn, we think is going to be fine,” Muschamp said. “He should practice Tuesday.”
The Tigers (11-0) are 28th in the nation in passing offense with 272.7 yards per game behind freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is 20th in the nation in passer rating.
Kinlaw left the last game after aggravating a hip and groin injury that has bothered him for the last month, Muschamp said, but he’s also expected to return against the Tigers. Kinlaw leads the Gamecocks in sacks with 3.5. He has nine tackles-for-loss, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick.
Starting safety Steven Montac, who sat out Chattanooga game, will return against Clemson. Montac is second on the team in tackles with 59. He also has five pass breakups. Safeties J.T. Ibe, Nick Harvey, Jamyest Williams and Javon Charleston already have been lost to season-ending or long term injuries.
With Montac, R.J. Roderick and Horn at safety, cornerback Rashad Fenton will be the fourth safety, senior walk-on Jason Senn will be the fifth and freshman Jonathan Gipson will be the sixth, Muschamp said.
“We have to have a great week of preparing for this game, and we have to do a better job of coaching this game than we have the last two years,” Muschamp said.
Clemson is on a four-game winning streak against South Carolina.
Players of the game. Senn played in his first collegiate game on Saturday against Chattanooga, and he earned the team’s defensive player of the week award on top of that. Senn played 63 snaps after Jaycee Horn left with an ankle sprain.
“We labored over this a little bit,” Muschamp said. “His number was called, and he came out and did a nice job for us. Really proud of him.”
Senn finished with three tackles. Keir Thomas was the defensive lineman of the game. Freshman linebacker Ernest Jones was named the defensive effort player of the game.
Quarterback Jake Bentley, who had four touchdown passes and just four incompletions against the Mocs, was named offensive player of the game. Dennis Daley was named offensive lineman of the game. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel was named offensive effort player of the game.
Punter Joseph Charlton and linemen Kinlaw and J.J. Enagbare were named special teams players of the week. Kinlaw and Enagbare each blocked a kick.
The rivalry. South Carolina will play Clemson for the 116th time on Saturday.
“I don’t know that you really need to talk about the rivalry a lot,” Muschamp said Sunday night. “Our guys feel it, they will hear it. When people find out you played football at South Carolina, probably one of the first things they will ask you is what was your record against Clemson. Our guys understand that. They understand the importance of it in this state and to their university and to their lineage as a South Carolina football player.”
The Tigers have won the last four meetings.