South Carolina's defense will be without two projected starters for the time being as middle linebacker Kaiwan Lewis and spur Sharrod Golightly are sitting out of the Gamecocks' spring practice.
According to The State's Josh Kendall, both players had arthroscopic knee procedures this winter to clear up nagging pain from the 2013 season and are expected to miss "at least the first two weeks of spring practice."
"They are saying (they will be back) before spring ball is out, but they're not saying when just yet," linebackers coach Kirk Botwin said Tuesday.
Lewis started 10 games last season and is expected to be the Gamecocks first-string middle linebacker in 2014. Golightly, a senior, started all 12 games last season. Both players ranked in the top six on the team in tackles in 2013.
Both veterans missing spring drills has allowed sophomore Marcquis Roberts and T.J. Holloman to get more work at middle linebacker. According to The State, Golightly's absence has resulted in sophomores Jordan Diggs and Larenz Bryant getting a majority of the defensive snaps at the spur position.
The biggest question mark on defense for South Carolina fans is not about building depth at linebacker but identifying the next wave of playmakers on the defensive line. Not only is Jadeveon Clowney gone, but so is defensive end Chaz Sutton and All-SEC defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles.
When asked about the defensive line's development, Gamecocks defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward was quick to point out that the coaches can't take away much yet, just two practices down, since the players haven't even put pads on yet.