August 20, 2013

Kendall Soundoff: At a breaking point with Clowney hype

My fear is that we are getting perilously close to the point where we will not be able to enjoy Jadeveon Clowney’s season because of outsized expectations.

The Jadeveon Clowney hype finally reached my personal breaking point this week when Las Vegas oddsmaker Bovada released its over/under on how many sacks South Carolina’s junior defensive end will have this season.

For the non-seedy crowd, an over/under is a statistical line that allows people to bet whether the final tally will be more or less. There are over/unders for final scores, passing yards, sacks, you get the idea.

Bovada’s number for Clowney is 18.5, which is astonishing.

Traditionally, oddsmakers set lines in order to get half the money bet on one side and half bet on the other, thus ensuring the oddsmaker makes money if on commission alone. Essentially, Bovada is saying here they think there is a 50 percent chance Clowney will have more than 18.5 sacks.

Let’s put that in perspective. Last year, Clowney set the single-season school record with 13 sacks. And 4.5 of those came in the final regular season game. So Bovada is saying he will have almost 50 percent more than his historic season last year. (Bovada’s number does not count a potential SEC title game or a bowl game, so we’re talking 12 games here.)

But wait, I can do even better than that on the perspective front.

Unofficially, Alabama’s Derrick Thomas holds the NCAA record for sacks in a season with 27 in 1987, however, because the NCAA did not record the sack as an official statistic that year, the official record is 24 by Arizona State’s Terrell Suggs in 2002. Second on the list is Louisville’s Elvis Dumervil with 20 in 2005, and those are the only two players to have been credited with more than 18 in a season.

My fear here is not for Bovada. They may lose their shirt on this wager, but those guys in Vegas have big closets because they win more than they lose. My fear is that we are getting perilously close to the point where we will not be able to enjoy Clowney’s season because of outsized expectations.

Another 13-sack season will not be a failure. In fact, it would be a tremendous accomplishment. Every opposing player and coach I talked to this summer stressed they will have a plan to deal with Clowney. Those plans won’t be 100 percent successful, but the general consensus among the people who show up on South Carolina’s schedule is they can’t let Clowney destroy their entire offensive game plan like he did at Clemson last year.

In whole, that’s good news for the Gamecocks defense, which can take advantage of the extra attention paid to Clowney in other areas, but it’s bad news for Clowney’s numbers.

Take the under (if you’re into that kind of thing).

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