South Carolina has to call on young linebackers

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina has All-American Jadeveon Clowney up front and a solid secondary behind him. In the middle, though, is where the defensive questions begin for the sixth-ranked Gamecocks.

South Carolina lost five senior linebackers from one of the Southeastern Conference's top defenses a year ago. Shaq Wilson, Reggie Bowens, Quin Smith and Demario Jeffery took nearly every snap at the position in 2012 while DeVonte Holloman was one of the team's top playmakers from his hybrid spot of strong safety/linebacker.

That means South Carolina will rely on an untested group as they look to keep opponents in check, starting with North Carolina on August 29th.

Linebackers coach Kirk Botkin says the group he's got is fast, strong and talented, just untested and believes they'll eventually be defensive strength.