South Carolina is expected to get three injured players back this week, including two defensive backs that could help a secondary that struggled against North Carolina.
Senior defensive backs A.J. Turner and J.T. Ibe both missed Saturday’s game with injuries, as did wide receiver OrTre Smith. All three practiced Sunday night and are expected to return this week for the home opener against Charleston Southern.
“They are going to be fine this week,” Muschamp said Sunday night.
Turner and Smith had shoulder injuries and were game-time decisions Saturday, while Ibe sat out with a pectoral injury.
Turner, a running back who switched to defense this year, and Ibe, a sixth-year senior who transferred from Rice, can help a young secondary that had trouble against North Carolina. The Tar Heels had 483 yards of total offense in the 24-20 win, including several big pass plays in rallying from a 20-9 deficit. Freshman quarterback Sam Howell threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to lead North Carolina.
South Carolina started two true freshmen in the secondary. Muschamp said the secondary should have made plays on three big pass plays late in the game.
“I thought that we had four 50-50 balls down the field. We made a play on one of them and were in position on the other three to get the ball off them, and we don’t get the ball off them,” he said. “Two of them were 14 points and one was a critical third-down conversion when they are backed up. We have to make a play on the ball in those situations.”
Ibe was expected to start at safety. Getting him back should help.
“He had a fantastic camp and was really playing well until he had the pec injury,” he said. “He looked fast out there tonight, he looked good, he took on some contact, so we will see how he continues to progress through the week.”