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Thursday, August 27, 2009
Gamecocks not fretting defensive line losses

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina's depth at defensive line will take a hit in the opener against NC State.

Tackle Ladi Ajiboye is suspended for the first three games, and end Clifton Geathers is suspended indefinitely following his arrest last week.

Still, Ellis Johnson feels good about where the Gamecocks are right now on the defensive line. Johnson, the assistant head coach for the defense, said redshirt freshman Devin Taylor was already pushing Geathers at one of the end spots. And from a pure talent standpoint, the South Carolina coaches think freshman end Chaz Sutton is potentially one of their best players.

Johnson points out that the Gamecocks have long since been planning to be without Ajiboye these first three games.

Junior Travian Robertson and senior Nathan Pepper will start at tackle, with sophomore Melvin Ingram rotating in with that first group. The guy the Gamecocks need to come through this season is redshirt freshman tackle Kenny Davis.

Geathers injured his eye (a cracked orbital bone) while fighting with a bouncer and struggling with police last week, which led to his arrest. It's doubtful that his suspension will be lifted in time for the opener. But physically, it's possible that he could still play. His helmet has been fitted with a shield to protect his eye, and he would also have to be cleared by doctors after suffering a slight concussion in the fight.

Right now, South Carolina is planning to play without him.

Particularly on passing downs, the Gamecocks could wind up using a three-down linemen set against the Wolfpack with outside linebacker Eric Norwood walking up to the line as a standup end.