Physically, mentally Jadeveon Clowney seems ready to play.
I think hell play, South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said on Thursday. Hes gotten better. Hes still getting a lot of treatment, hell continue to get a lot of treatment, but I think hell play.
Clowneys strained rib muscle, one of the most talked-about topics in sports the past week, healed enough for Clowney to practice on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Gamecocks All-America defensive end will make the trip to Arkansas on Saturday. Ward said that he would start if healthy, and coach Steve Spurrier said that he has responded well to practice.
He has practiced a bit, Spurrier said on his call-in radio show. Were still listing him as questionable, but theres a good chance he could play some out there.
Clowney said Tuesday that hes been going to treatment twice a day, and Ward backed that up Thursday.
I visited with (trainer Clint Haggard) earlier today, and he had been in treatment already twice. And that was the first part of the morning, Ward said. If hes healthy, hes going to start. Hes practiced two days in a row, and I think hes getting better every day.
As for other starters who may nor may not be on the field against the Razorbacks, Spurrier and Ward said there definitely would be changes. They did not list specifics, preferring to wait until before the game, but each was clearly unhappy about how USC finished last weeks win over Kentucky.
Practice this week was about telling some starters to keep their assignments in mind, and also to say that being benched wasnt the end of the road. Spurrier said that all responded positively, and he would see how the new starters do before deciding if the old starters will get back in the lineup.
Were going to start some different guys, Spurrier said. It doesnt mean the players that played last week are finished. Theyre just not starting. Well have some new starters.
Scheming for the run
Ward knows that playing a team that makes no bones about running nearly all of the time requires adjustment. The Gamecocks secondary may get a break in pass defense, but they will have to play close behind the linebackers if Arkansas running game begins to gel.
We dont face a lot of those teams, Ward said. Everybodys spread offenses these days. I think the last team we played similar to this was when we played LSU last year. They got into a lot of two-tight end, two-back sets and ran the football. Thats what Arkansas does, so we got to make sure we got enough in the box to stop the run.
Ward said that the key to stopping the run is playing the gaps and making sure players arent fooled on the handoffs or pitches. Its also important to remember that because a team likes to run doesnt mean it wont pass.
You got to make sure you put your eyes in the right place, Ward said. A lot of big passes have happened because those guys are selling out on the run. Weve got to do our job mentally, of focusing on our task, and when its called on for us to show up in run support, we do that.
Linebacker Kaiwan Lewis was back at practice on Thursday, wearing a yellow jersey without pads. A leg infection had him in the hospital earlier in the week, but Ward said that he should be ready for Saturday.
Kaiwan will play, Ward said. He ran eight gassers in practice, so hell be ready to play.
Togs for Hogs
USC will wear white jerseys and garnet pants on Saturday, per a tweet from USCs equipment staff.
Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: Lewis (leg infection), Devin Washington (concussion), Brandon Wilds (dislocated elbow), Cody Waldrop (sprained ankle) and Mike Matulis (shoulder).
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