South Carolina football: Gamecocks getting three defenders back vs. LSU

South Carolina defensive back Israel Mukuamu (24).Gw51846
South Carolina defensive back Israel Mukuamu (24).Gw51846 /

South Carolina football will get a few defenders back for its meeting with LSU.

There were a couple of significant pieces missing from the Gamecock secondary last weekend against Auburn. Everyone saw starting cornerback Israel Mukuamu in street clothes as he celebrated with teammate Jaycee Horn following his first career interception.

Mukuamu was a game time decision that was ultimately scratched due to a lingering groin issue. The strain has been bothering the junior since the Florida matchup in week two. Luckily for the Gamecocks, reserve John Dixon filled in admirably in Mukuamu’s place, as South Carolina harassed Auburn receivers all afternoon.

In Tuesday’s weekly press conference, Will Muschamp alluded to Mukuamu being active again in week five, which will be big for the Gamecocks as they face an LSU receiving corps that ranks second in the SEC in yards per game.

Mukuamu’s biggest job, much like the Florida game, could be defending an athletic tight end. Against the Gators, it was Kyle Pitts, the SEC’s leader in touchdown catches. This weekend, it will be freshman phenom Arik Gilbert, who’s coming off of a six catch, 97-yard performance against Missouri.

Gilbert has tallied 14 receptions thus far totaling 177 yards and a couple of scores. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, he’s a load for most defensive backs, but he’s much too athletic to stick a linebacker on in coverage. Mukuamu, also standing 6-foot-5, provides the best chance for the Gamecocks to lock down the talented tight end.

Also missing versus Auburn was reserve corner Cam Smith. His play has continued to progress since his week one performance against Tennessee. Getting he and Mukuamu back will obviously help with depth and personnel as the Gamecocks prepare to line up against a slew of LSU pass catchers.

"“I’m hoping to get Cam back tomorrow,” Muschamp said on Tuesday. “We’ll see tomorrow. Israel practiced today.”"

South Carolina may also get Jahmar Brown back at the linebacker position, and he, too, should be able to help out in passing situations against the Tigers. Since the start of the offseason, Will Muschamp has been utilizing Brown in a dual linebacker/safety role, with an emphasis on the DIME package (6 DBs, 1 LB).

"“Jahmar Brown is back functioning well at the Will and the Dime position. We feel pretty comfortable there…”"

Brown has missed all of this year with a knee injury, though he was active versus Auburn. His presence, again, could help slow the LSU passing attack as he covers tight ends and tailbacks.

The Gamecocks are going to need all the help they can get to keep the Tiger offense in check, and getting these three playmakers on the field is a step in the right direction.