The Auburn coaching staff expected everyone to be healthy for Saturday’s home-opener against Jacksonville St., but that didn't turn out to be the case and worsened as the overtime thriller wore on.
Safety Tray Matthews and defensive lineman Carl Lawson came out dressed in street clothes for the pregame warmups. Matthews suffered a shoulder injury last week against Louisville while Lawson injured his hip and spent the pregame session on crutches.
Matthews tried to do leg stretches with his teammates, but members of the coaching staff pulled him out. After sitting out last year as a transfer, he has yet to play a game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Right tackle Avery Young was late scratch with an injury, and was replaced with Braden Smith.
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After the game, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn confirmed Young was nursing an injury the offensive lineman suffered last week, but declined to reveal it was.
Defensive back Joshua Hosley’s challenging start to the season continued when he left Saturday’s game with a knee injury. It wasn’t clear if it was the same injured knee that kept him out of Auburn’s season-opener.
He started at nickel for the Tigers against Jacksonville St, but was injured on the Gamecocks’ first possession less than four minutes into the game.
After helping breakup a pass on the visitors sideline, the senior stayed down on the field. He didn’t put any weight on his left leg as trainers helped him to the sideline.
“I don’t know,” Malzahn said, of Hosley’s status. “I know he came out and wasn’t able to go back in. We got a lot of people banged up so…”
One of the players playing through an injury is linebacker Cassonova McKinzy. He's been dealing with a knee issue all season, and he had to come off the field twice after injury stoppage timeouts.
Despite limping at various times, McKinzy came through with a career-high 13 tackles, and two sacks.
One of the scariest moments of the game came was Duke Williams getting hit in the head trying to make a grab in the third quarter. He was sandwiched between a pair of defenders coming across the middle of the field.
Williams laid face down on the field as trainers ran to check on him.
Tigers' fans collectively held their breathe as he laid motionless on the ground for a couple of minutes. He walked off under his own power, and was cleared by trainers.
Williams showed no ill-effects from the hit when he made a catch for nine yards in the fourth quarter.