ESPN’s broadcast team of Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, David Pollack and Sam Ponder are in town for Thursday’s game between No. 6 South Carolina and North Carolina. We recently caught up with Ponder and Pollack to get their views on the game and on some key personnel.
Q: How excited are you to come back to Williams-Brice Stadium?
A: “It’s why I love college football. These kinds of environments, a guy they’re talking a Heisman about. That’s why I love this job. In my opinion, when those guys run out of the tunnel, it’s one of the most exciting entrances in college football.”
Never miss a local story.
Q: Jadeveon Clowney has drawn quite a bit of attention already. Will ESPN keep a camera on him tonight?
A: “He’s a star. I sat next to him at the ESPYs. He’s just special. Ask any coach, ask Mark Richt, they’ll tell you, that’s the easy story line. He’s a straight-up stud, a star from the beginning. We’ll keep an eye on him the whole game.”
Q: ESPN certainly likes Steve Spurrier to open the season. What makes him that magnet?
A: “It doesn’t get any better than the Spurrier interview. He keeps you on your toes. It doesn’t matter how much thought they’ve put into it, some coaches will say the same things every time. Spurrier is not going to follow that line. You ask, ‘Coach, how’s it going?’ and you get a story. I certainly appreciate his honesty and openness. He makes it more fun.”
Q: Any predictions?
A: “I try to stay away from the predictions. It gets out of hand. That’s the fun thing about college football, it’s not as predictable as some of the NFL stuff. I’m telling you, if a guy gets broken up with his girlfriend the night before the game, it can have a serious impact. There are so many X-factors.”
Q: You’re one of the best defensive ends (at Georgia) to ever play in the SEC. Is Clowney that kind of game-changer?
“Yeah. You’re not supposed to be 6-7, 260 and be able to move like that. It’s not legal, quite frankly. The explosiveness and pure speed, it’s impressive. You don’t see many guys that just have that. I think he improved a lot from his freshman and sophomore year, specifically against the run. If he can play with a consistent edge and play hard every down, there’s no one that can think about stopping him.”
Q: How hard is it to play 100 percent all the time?
A: “The only way to do it is if you practice like it. You can’t show up on Saturdays and play your butt off, 100 miles an hour, like a Tasmanian Devil, unless you do it in practice every single day. It’s where it’s got to start, and it’s where you got to build that base to where it needs to be in games.”
Q: How do you think he’s handling it?
A: “I think (at SEC Media Days) he was kind of like, ‘Whatever, I’ll say whatever I feel, I’ll call quarterbacks scared’ or whatever. There’s a lot of different ways to skin a cat, and I think everybody handles things different. He knows he’s great. He’s not staying for his senior year. I think he’s done a good job of being who he is.”
Q: Will he break your sack total (36, fourth in SEC history)?
A: “Oh, yeah. Are you kidding? Yeah. You can go ahead and count it broken. He’s twice the athlete I was. He’s way better than I could ever dream about being.”
Follow Cloninger on Twitter at @DCTheState