South Carolina (4-1, 2-1) continues to win, but boy does this defense have trouble closing out games – especially without Jadeveon Clowney. Last week’s 35-28 win over Kentucky marks the third-straight game in which the Gamecocks have blown a large lead and had to hold on for a close victory.
Three games ago, South Carolina led Vanderbilt 28-0 before holding on 35-25. The following week, the Gamecocks were up 28-10 at UCF when the Knights posted two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and South Carolina needed to field an onside kick with under two minutes left to close out a 28-25 win.
Though much of the conversation about this team has centered on Clowney’s commitment to his team, the real questions should be focused on what’s happening on the field, especially the recent defensive breakdowns in the second half of games.
South Carolina has shown it can win – albeit barely – without its best player, but you have to believe the Gamecocks do not want to continue on without his services. Because eventually, playing poorly on defense in the second half is going to end up costing this team a game or two.
What to look for in Week 7: How effective will Clowney be if he makes it on the field against Arkansas? The 6-foot-6, 274-pound defensive end said Tuesday that he’s receiving treatment several times a day on the strained muscle near his rib cage in hopes he can return in time to face the Razorbacks on Saturday.
Predictably, he then went on to defend his commitment to the team.
“Am I fully committed? Always,” Clowney said. “I could’ve sat out. I’m not looking to sit out. I’m not that type of guy. I’m here for the team.”