It was hot and muggy, perhaps the worst day of what had been a very mild summer. And Jadeveon Clowney claimed he had a stomach virus the night before, which prevented him from eating much more than a banana and some grapes on game day.
Steve Spurrier recognized that but also recognized that the Heisman Trophy contender didn’t play the way he’s capable in last week’s 27-10 season-opening win against North Carolina.
“We didn’t have anything like that in preseason practice, as most all of us down here know,” Spurrier said Sunday during his weekly teleconference. “But our guys got through it pretty well. We IV’d up before the game, halftime, just probably like North Carolina did, too.
“Jadeveon, obviously he was pooped, and I think there were some other reasons he was pooped, instead of being in not-great shape. I think he’s in pretty good shape, and we’ll hopefully get him ready to go this coming game.”
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That would be Saturday at No. 5 Georgia, as No. 6 South Carolina seeks to extend a three-year winning streak. The Bulldogs, beaten 38-35 by No. 8 Clemson on Saturday, are aching to win their first game of the year after dropping a winnable game against the Tigers with foolish penalties, passive blocking and an off-game from senior quarterback Aaron Murray.
The Bulldogs feature a dynamic offense, led by Murray and tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. They rolled up 545 yards of offense against Clemson. USC feels it can shut it down, but a big part of that is whether Clowney plays like Clowney.
The junior defensive end has had two terrific games against Georgia, with three sacks of Murray and a forced fumble. Whatever it was that had him dragging against the Tar Heels, Spurrier hopes it’s over.
He spoke with Clowney and further addressed it to the media. Spurrier believes it will be a return to the old Clowney on Saturday.
“Well, whatever I told him after the game will remain between he and I,” Spurrier said. “And I think he’ll play a lot better this next game, I think he’ll feel better as we get into the game.
“We all watched what happened out there, and obviously Jadeveon was not up to par. I think Jadeveon learned that the camera’s on him every play. Maybe that will be a positive for us moving forward, that he knows that the camera’s on him every play this year.”
Georgia has been a benchmark game for USC, but that’s changed the past two years.
While USC has beaten Georgia the past two years, the Bulldogs have gone to the SEC Championship Game each time. USC had a better record in 2011 (11-2 to 10-4), but the Bulldogs played for the title; and Georgia came up 5 yards short of the BCS Championship Game last year and finished 12-2, while the Gamecocks again were 11-2.
A win Saturday doesn’t guarantee either team anything, but with the way the schedules set up, USC would seem to have an easier path to Atlanta.
If it wins on Saturday.
“We can’t worry about all that,” Spurrier said. “Only thing we can concern ourselves with is trying to beat Georgia. But again, whoever wins or loses, it just proves they’re not in the driver’s seat for anything.”
Starting center Cody Waldrop sprained his foot against UNC and is in a walking boot, but Spurrier was hopeful that he would be able to play against Georgia. His backup is redshirt freshman Clayton Stadnik.
Strong safety Kadetrix Marcus didn’t have any permanent damage from his dislocated shoulder and could return in a week or two. T.J. Gurley, who led the Gamecocks in tackles against UNC, will start in his place and is backed up by Chaz Elder.
Linebacker Cedrick Cooper, who missed the UNC game with a dislocated elbow, practiced Saturday and has a chance to play against Georgia. Receiver Bruce Ellington, who caught one pass against UNC, is very close to 100 percent.
Tight end Rory Anderson missed the UNC game with a hamstring injury but will practice lightly this week, along with defensive tackle J.T. Surratt, who bruised his foot against UNC.
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