This season was supposed to be going so much better than it is for South Carolina junior defensive end Jadaveon Clowney, but after a 1-1 start and lackluster performance his frustrations are boiling over.
“I told the coaches you got to put me somewhere else — in the middle if you want to — somewhere I can make some plays [to] help my team get in position to win.” Clowney told the media after the game. “But [Georgia] took me right out of the game.”
Clowney could not keep his frustrations bottled in after his team lost their SEC opener to Georgia in which South Carolina allowed 41 points and could not get off the field in the final 8:28 in the game. I don’t blame him and Clowney, admittedly frustrated over the loss, is doing what any athlete would do when faced with adversity.
He isn’t calling out the coaches or demanding changes as some may intimate with these comments, but I interpret them as an elite athlete searching for answers to return to his dominating ways.
Credit Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo for devising a perfect game plan to effectively take Clowney out of the game. He finished with three tackles for the second straight game and made his first sack of the season, but was largely ineffective due to Georgia running away from him.
“It’s hard out there trying to chase from the backside, and they just took me right out of the game,” Clowney said. “They want to move me around — that’s up to them. I’m going to keep playing my assignments. I set the edge most of the night, [but] the ball went away from me on the backside chasing.”
When you’re a defensive end and you have to chase plays down from the backside you are running 30 yards to the other side of the field and you will tire him out. This is exactly what happened vs. North Carolina and Clowney was questioned about his endurance and stamina. It’s easy to question a player’s conditioning levels from the couch, but any defensive lineman forced to chase plays down will be winded.
Honestly, Clowney is the least of my concerns if I’m Ward. Although his expectations were as high as the top row in Williams-Brice Stadium, he’s still the most talented player in the nation. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward would be wise to heed Clowney’s advice and move him around to make it harder for opposing offenses to scheme against him.
With a little creativity by Ward, and an angry Clowney, we should see the player who racked up a school-record 13 sacks last season.
A new season starts Saturday for Clowney and the Gamecocks against Vanderbilt who should be awfully concerned about No. 7 in garnet who is capable of a four-sack game any Saturday.