South Carolina will be down two more starting defensive players for the Belk Bowl.
Junior defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and senior cornerback Keisean Nixon will miss the Dec. 29 matchup with Virginia, Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp said Thursday. South Carolina (7-5) takes on the Cavaliers (7-5) at noon in Bank of America Stadium.
Kinlaw had surgery recently to repair a labral tear in his hip. The Goose Creek native had been the only defensive line starter from the beginning of the season to survive the year without missing at least one game due to injury. He had 38 tackles, including 4.5 sacks, and five pass breakups during the regular season.
“It was something that we probably could have done after the bowl, but we wanted to get him healthy and get him ready for his senior year so we went ahead and did the surgery,” Muschamp said.
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Nixon has a fracture in his neck, which was discovered by a CAT scan after the Akron game, Muschamp said. Nixon had experienced soreness and numbness during the season, Muschamp said. Nixon was fourth on the team in tackles during the regular season with 63. He also led the team in pass breakups with nine.
“He had had some issues with his shoulder, had had some numbness,” Muschamp said. “Very disappointed for him.”
Defensive end Aaron Sterling (knee) could “possibly” play in the bowl game, Muschamp said. Sterling has 15 tackles this season.
Linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams, defensive back Jaycee Horn, defensive tackle Keir Thomas and safety Jaylin Dickerson are expected to play, Muschamp said.
Belk Bowl info
Who: South Carolina (7-5) vs. Virginia (7-5)
Where: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina
When: Noon Dec. 29