September 5, 2013

Kendall's Morning Meeting: Blackledge (and everyone else) talks Clowney

Former Penn State quarterback Todd Blackledge, who will call Saturday's game for ESPN, has some thoughts on Jadeveon Clowney.

Todd Blackledge spent Wednesday afternoon in a familiar spot – the film room.

A three-year starting quarterback at Penn State, where he won a national championship in 1982, and then an NFL quarterback for six years, Blackledge will be the analyst for ESPN’s broadcast of Saturday’s South Carolina-Georgia game.

“I love my job, and I love preparing for the game,” Blackledge said after watching the Gamecocks practice Wednesday afternoon. “I treat it very much like I used to when I played in terms of the film I watch and time I put in.”

Before Wednesday’s practice, Blackledge huddled up with tape in the South Carolina coaches’ offices. One of the things he studied was Jadeveon Clowney’s performance against North Carolina.

“Certainly he didn’t play every play the same,” said Blackledge, who offered there could be any number of reasons for that.

He stressed that he expects a bounce back from South Carolina’s All-America junior defensive end.

“I would be shocked if he doesn’t play like an absolute man on Saturday night,” Blackledge said. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with him. I don’t think there is anything to be concerned about. If anything, this stuff will probably fuel him to play at a super-high level come Saturday night.”

Speaking of Clowney, pretty much everyone in Athens, Ga., is being asked their thoughts on what his matchup with the Bulldogs means. Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo says the key is “don’t turn a bad play into a catastrophe. Guys need to hold onto the ball.” There’s plenty more here.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin talked Wednesday about walking the tightrope that quarterback Johnny Manziel is on.

“Anybody who watches Johnny knows he plays with a lot of emotion and a lot of passion,” Sumlin said. “Because of that, he gets into a gray area. It’s my job, it’s our job as coaches, to keep that passion and energy going but make it positive. … What you don’t want to do is kill that passion. I think it’s what separates Johnny.”

Meanwhile, don’t look now but Alabama keeps stockpiling its roster. The Crimson Tide got a commitment from the nation’s No. 1 prospect, offensive lineman Cameron Robinson. Not only did that give Nick Saban a big recruiting win in Louisiana, but it also gave Alabama six offensive line commitments for the 2014 class. Seriously, don’t look, you’ll only get depressed. This is why former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said Wednesday that nobody is going to “slow down that train” for a while.

Of course, if you didn’t see my tweet yesterday of the Athens church sign asking for divine intervention to help stop Clowney, you missed a chuckle. Unfortunately, it was later revealed to be a creation of ESPN, which apparently will air it and several similar signs during their preview of the game Saturday.

Later today, we will release our weekly preview video, talk about how South Carolina went from 13th in the SEC in rushing yards per carry to Saturday’s impressive ground game, let you hear what NFL Draft writer Josh Norris thinks of the matchup of Clowney and Georgia’s offensive line, and, of course, fill you in immediately on everything defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward says after practice.

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