Nagging injuries hampering USC defense

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - South Carolina's dynamic defensive end duo of Jadeveon Clowney and Chaz Sutton hit the practice field on Tuesday, but that might not be the case every day as the season progresses.

Both Clowney and Sutton are fighting nagging foot injuries and will be day-to-day for practice for the rest of the season according to defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward.

"We've had a lot of foot injuries this year, more than normal," said Ward. "You always want to build a continuity having the same 11 guys that are starters playing. But it's something you have to deal with."

The injuries to Sutton and Clowney are just one part of a much bigger problem. The Gamecock defense has had to deal with several minor nagging injuries throughout fall camp and into the season.

Starting cornerback Victor Hampton has missed practice time due to a foot injury. Also, safety Kadetrix Marcus and linebacker Cedrick Cooper have missed games dealing with injuries.

Hampton has relied on a protective walking boot off the field as a precaution, something both Clowney and Sutton will likely be using going forward to manage pain and protect the injury.

Ward says they will be limited at practice, but they will get their work in so they will be ready for games.

Sutton says he will try to practice as much as possible. Clowney was not made available to reporters after Tuesday's practice.

"We all have to come together and play," said Sutton. "We need to be out here practicing together and in games together because once we get a feel for each other through fall camp, the spring, and training and walk throughs and everything, everyone gets a good feeling for each other and we can keep continuing to get better as a unit."

The Gamecocks rank ninth in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing 25.3 points per game, and seventh in total defense, giving up 365.7 yards per game. The defense also leads the conference in sacks, with 10 through the first three games. Arkansas ranks second with nine sacks.

South Carolina hopes to have a healthy defense after the bye week when the Gamecocks return to game action at Central Florida.