On paper, there's no thinner or less experienced unit on the South Carolina roster than the Gamecocks' secondary. And unfortunately for Steve Spurrier and Co., it just got even thinner, and far less experienced.
The Gamecock program announced Monday that senior cornerback Akeem Auguste underwent a "procedure" on an injured right thigh muscle Sunday and is out indefinitely. He will be re-evaluated in four-to-five weeks, but there is no timetable for his return.
Auguste had already missed much of fall camp with what had been called an injured groin muscle, but was cleared to return to practice Friday. According to The State reporter Josh Kendall, after initially saying he would hold Auguste out until Monday even after his clearance, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward OK'd Auguste to take part in Saturday's scrimmage.
Auguste aggravated his injury during the scrimmage, leading to Sunday's procedure and minimum of four weeks off. Auguste will miss at least the Gamecocks' season opener at Vanderbilt and September home dates vs. East Carolina and UAB, and very likely their SEC home opener against Missouri.
The injury is a further setback for the unfortunate senior, who missed all but one game a year ago with a foot injury. As a sophomore in 2010, Auguste started 10 games at free safety and made 58 tackles, making him one of the most seasoned options available in a Gamecock secondary that lost star corner Stephon Gilmore and two other key cornerback contributors to graduation.
Replacing Auguste during his absence will likely be junior Jimmy Legree, who started two games in 2011. Redshirt freshman Ahmad Christian and senior Jared Shaw will also be in the mix.
But regardless of who ultimately wins the job, a defensive backfield that's already adjusting to a new coordinator and had only one returning starter -- senior free safety D.J. Swearinger -- is now also missing its most reliable option on the outside. Few teams will be able to make up for that vulnerability with a pass rush of the Gamecocks' caliber (or so Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney would tell you), but until Auguste returns (if he does at all), any team that can blunt that rush seems likely to have some opportunities down the field.