Tape It Up: South Carolina: Another Big Change

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South Carolina: Another Big Change

Steve Spurrier was eager to announce on Monday that the Gamecocks would switch quarterbacks before next Saturday's game. He did not anticipate having to switch linebackers, as well. Senior Jasper Brinkley will miss the rest of the season after spraining his right knee against No. 2 LSU on Saturday. The 6-foot-2, 262-pound middle linebacker has not yet chosen a date for his surgery.

Switching quarterbacks because it will help the team is one thing, but scrambling to fill Brinkley's shoes on defense is quite another. Brinkley was an All-SEC first-team selection as a junior and entering his senior season, found himself on a plethora of preseason watch lists for postseason awards. He led the team (and returning SEC players) in tackles last season, with 107, including 85 solo stops - more than twice the total of the team's second-leading tackler. The senior was on track for another record-breaking year this season.

In four games, Brinkley has 21 tackles, including 15 solo. He leads the team in interceptions with two picks, including one in the final seconds to seal a 16-12 win over Georgia. He has started all 17 games since arriving on campus, leaving the Gamecocks without their most seasoned linebacker as they prepare to take on Mississippi State.

Brinkley can apply for a medical redshirt that would give him another year of eligibility, but team spokesmen have not confirmed whether or not Brinkley will choose to do so.

South Carolina got burned last week at No. 2 LSU, dropping a 28-16 decision that featured precious little Gamecock defense. Losing Brinkley will not help South Carolina climb their way back up the rankings (they fell to No. 16 after the loss dropped them to 3-1), and Spurrier is going to have to find someone (or several players) who are able to step up on defense and shore up a shaky unit. They may be able to stop Mississippi State, but Florida will not be so forgiving.

South Carolina appears to be losing defensive starters, as Brinkely's injury makes the Gamecocks two-for-two in season-ending injuries in the past two weeks. Lineman Nathan Pepper injured his left knee on an interception return for a touchdown against South Carolina State and is also out for the season.

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