COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -Cory Boyd hasn't yet gotten used to South Carolina's new future, one without star linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who's out for the season with a knee injury.
Brinkley, the team's best defensive player, had successful surgery Wednesday to reattach a ligament his right knee, coach Steve Spurrier said.
``It's feels kind of awkward'' without Brinkley, said Boyd, South Carolina's senior tailback.
Boyd and Brinkley were fellow senior leaders focused on a big finish to their college careers. So when Boyd heard about Brinkley's problem, it knocked him back as hard as any defender could.
Brinkley and Boyd both deferred possible NFL careers last spring to keep playing with the Gamecocks, and both took pride in the choice. ``The coaches bragging on us that we came back our senior year to help the team,'' Boyd recalled this week.
Despite Brinkley's loss, ``everybody will rally behind us. We still have a good defense. We still have some young guys at linebacker dedicated to the game,'' Boyd said.
None of them, at least for now, are likely to match Brinkley's performance.
He led the Gamecocks (3-1, 1-1 SEC) with 107 tackles a year ago, twice the amount of the team's next best tackler. Brinkley's 21 tackles this year were tied for fourth. He also had a team-high two interceptions, including the pick at the end that preserved the Gamecocks 16-12 win at Georgia on Sept. 8.
Brinkley led with a quiet resolve. Without him in the middle, ``we've got some linebackers just got to grow up fast,'' Spurrier said.
Brinkley's brother, South Carolina defensive end Casper, said the injury ``basically takes away a great leader. He was a great leader for us. But somebody's got to step up and fill his shoes.''
Right now, that's junior Marvin Sapp. Second on the team in tackles a year ago, he will take over for Brinkley against Mississippi State (3-1, 1-1) at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday.
Sapp said the team has shown an ability to rally in the past when players have gotten injured. That attitude will show itself this time too, he said.
``What we're doing now is coach feels I can get the job done, I can fill a role and play my part,'' Sapp said.
Brinkley's the second starter out of the year because of injury. Defensive lineman Nathan Pepper injured his left knee against South Carolina State a week before Brinkley got hurt.
``We definitely would've been a better defense is some of them were still here,'' Boyd said. ``We know we have to keep moving on and we know that their presence still be felt.''
Spurrier is confident Brinkley will return to South Carolina next year once the school asks the NCAA for a medical waiver.
Boyd spoke with Brinkley soon after finding out about the season-ending injury. Brinkley promised Boyd he'd stay connected with the team throughout his months of rehab.
If Brinkley does that, Boyd said ``that's going to show a lot of the younger guys that you can still be dedicated and still help the team.''
HURTING GATORS: No. 4 Florida will be without receiver Andre Caldwell at least another week and might not have Percy Harvin at full speed Saturday when they host Auburn.
Caldwell missed the last two games with a sprained ligament in his right knee. Coach Urban Meyer had hoped to have him back Saturday but said Tuesday that Caldwell likely won't play. He should be back next week at No. 2 LSU.
Harvin, meanwhile, missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday because of a hip pointer.
Harvin injured his hip last week at Mississippi. He left the game but returned to finish with 11 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Meyer said he expected Harvin to practice by Friday. Harvin, who has battled tendinitis in his knee and in his Achilles' tendon this fall, leads the Gators (4-0, 2-0) with 21 catches for 336 yards and three scores.
``It's a concern because he's missing practice,'' Meyer said. ``He plays better when he practices. He's killing himself trying to get back. They had him running, he wasn't even supposed to run (Tuesday), but he was fighting through it. I've coached guys with hip pointers before. He'll be fine. I just worry about missing practice.''
Meyer said cornerback Markihe Anderson (knee) also will not play against Auburn.
HEISMAN HOPES: This question has been making the rounds in Arkansas lately: How much will the Razorbacks' record affect Darren McFadden's Heisman Trophy chances?
McFadden has been brilliant through three games, averaging 173 yards rushing per game. But Arkansas lost its first two Southeastern Conference games to Alabama and Kentucky and dropped out of the Top 25.
Coach Houston Nutt would love for his team to climb back into the SEC title race, but he doesn't see that as a prerequisite for McFadden's Heisman chances.
``We're always trying to win as many games as we can. That's first and foremost, you know that,'' Nutt said. ``But what is the trophy? Is it for the best player, or is it for the best team?''
Nutt was an assistant at Oklahoma State in 1988 when Barry Sanders won the Heisman. The Cowboys went 10-2 that season but lost to Nebraska and Oklahoma.
``I don't think we won the Big Eight that year, and he won it,'' Nutt said. ``It's about giving it to the best player I think. That's what the Heisman Trophy stands for.''
In recent years, the Heisman has gone to players from national championship contenders. Ohio State's Troy Smith won it last year.
Nutt isn't shy about lobbying for McFadden.
``You're talking about a kick returner, you're talking about an unselfish player - a blocker. You're talking about a pass catcher,'' Nutt said. ``You're talking about a guy that's going to go over 1,000 yards, he's going to have some of the most spectacular runs, and he can throw it as well. Pretty valuable, and that's why he's got to be in there.''
HONORS: Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was the SEC offensive player of the week after accounting for 427 yards of total offense, including a school record 166 rushing yards by a quarterback, in Florida's 30-24 win at Ole Miss.
Kentucky linebacker Wesley Woodyard had 17 tackles and forced a fumble in a 42-29 win at Arkansas to take defensive player of the week honors.
Auburn punter Patrick Tatum was the special teams player of the week after putting four punts inside the 20 against New Mexico State.

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