College Sports

Thomas survives neck injury

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina junior cornerback Carlos Thomas suffered a neck injury in practice Tuesday and probably won't play against North Carolina Saturday.

Thomas took a shot to the head and collapsed on the field. He was alert and able to move his extremities but was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

He was released from the hospital Wednesday wearing a neck brace, walking but saying he had some numbness in his arms, according to USC sports information officials.

It's the second neck injury for Thomas. As a freshman, Thomas was returning a kick at Tennessee and got upended. He landed on his head and didn't move for a few minutes, although he was later diagnosed with a concussion and only missed one game.

A starter on this week's depth chart, Thomas is backed up by senior Brandon Isaac, who returned from a two-week absence (separated shoulder) against Kentucky. Freshman Addison Williams, the backup to corner Captain Munnerlyn on the other side, could also see extended playing time against the Tar Heels.

• CHIN UP: Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, out for the season with a knee injury, limped into a press conference this week with his right leg encased in a black cast. Brinkley leaned his crutches against the wall before flopping into an easy chair, saying he wasn't depressed but could be feeling a lot better.

"Just watching everybody out there playing football, I feel like I'm supposed to be out there," he said. "But things happen for a reason."

Brinkley reiterated comments from the days after the injury, saying he was definitely planning on returning next year instead of heading to the NFL. Despite his knee, Brinkley could still be a second or third-round draft pick.

"I just want to come back and show the scouts what I can do," Brinkley said. "I kind of feel like my stocks were hurt this year anyway because I came in the season with a high ankle sprain, and I wasn't 100 percent. I was always hurt."

• WHAT'S GOING ON?: Coach Steve Spurrier pointed out this week that while the Gamecocks are ranked seventh in the country, everything's not as rosy as it looks. USC's 11th in the SEC in rushing offense (130.7 yards per game) and 11th in rushing defense (allowing 193.8).

"We're 11th-best in the conference, so we're not stopping the run and we're not running very far," Spurrier said. "But somehow or another, we're making big plays."

Tailbacks Cory Boyd and Mike Davis were effective in the early season, spearheading the offense as the passing game searched for answers. But after a 28-16 loss at LSU, where the two combined for 27 yards on 22 carries, it's been a struggle.

Each has played with nagging injuries, Boyd spraining his knee on the first play against Mississippi State but still rushing for 58 yards. Davis, pressed into more service against the Bulldogs, scored three touchdowns on 69 rushing yards on a sore hamstring.

Against Kentucky, the two combined for 119 yards on 31 carries (3.8 per). After the Gamecocks' first three games, Davis and Boyd were averaging over 6 yards per carry.

• DIDN'T THINK THAT WOULD LAST: The Gamecocks' offensive line, the same five faces for the past two games, may change Saturday. After a so-so performance against Kentucky, Spurrier said Lemuel Jeanpierre may get another shot at right guard.

Jeanpierre has been a backup for two weeks, playing behind James Thompson, who was suspended for the first three games. Thompson played well against LSU and MSU, but not so well against Kentucky.

With Kevin Young and Gurminder Thind still nursing slight injuries, the line is running out of options. Center Web Brown sprained his left knee against Kentucky but should be fine for this week.

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