Jadeveon Clowney certainly showed no signs of a layoff, or that his pulled rib muscle is bothering him.
Fourteenth-ranked South Carolina’s premier defensive end was at practice on Wednesday in a normal jersey (non-yellow) and participated in sprints at the end of the session. Clowney nor coaches commented on his status, since it was a day for offensive players to speak.
USC will practice on Thursday before leaving for Arkansas. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward is expected to offer an update on Clowney’s availability for the game at that time.
Steve Spurrier earlier Wednesday said Clowney “hopefully” will be able to play against the Razorbacks.
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Clowney missed last week’s game against Kentucky due to a strained muscle near his ribs.
“He was hurt,” Spurrier said on the SEC’s weekly teleconference.
Arkansas’ run game will be a challenge for the Gamecocks with or without Clowney, Spurrier said. The Razorbacks are fourth in the SEC with 216 rushing yards per game.
“They are one of the few two-back teams that you are going to face right now that are going to come straight at you,” Spurrier said. “We have to be strong inside. Guys have to stay in their gaps and try to get them in pass situations.”
Running backs coach Everette Sands will approach the Arkansas game like he did the Kentucky game – Mike Davis is the No. 1 back, Shon Carson is No. 2 and David Williams is No. 3, although if the Gamecocks can get away with not using Williams, they will.
Sands is hoping to preserve Williams’ redshirt and is viewing him as an only-in-case-of-emergency option. Carson had the most productive day of his career against Kentucky, rushing three times for 7 yards and catching one pass for 7 yards.
“He only got about 10 reps, carried the ball a couple of times,” Sands said. “He had one really nice reception where he went and got a first down, but he did some good things.”
Sands anticipates Carson getting more reps against Arkansas, which stands to be a game with two run-heavy offenses. As for the return of Brandon Wilds, who went down against UCF with a dislocated left elbow, Sands said that 2-3 weeks is still the likely scenario.
Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott has been very pleased with the performance of backup center Clayton Stadnik, who stands to start another game against Arkansas. Cody Waldrop remained out of practice on Wednesday with a sprained ankle.
“Yeah, I think so. He’ll make another appearance this week,” Elliott said.
The redshirt freshman had to make his first collegiate start at Georgia. He did well and continues to do well.
“Anytime you lose what you have as a starter and he has an injury and you put your backup in there, and the guy’s unproven, he just stepped in and he was probably a little bit nervous that Georgia game, or a lot nervous,” Elliott said. “You didn’t see any fall-off. I was really pleased with that.”
Keep doing what you’re doing
With both teams expected to run the ball on Saturday, expect a heavy dose of Connor Shaw’s rushing ability. Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus loves the way his senior signal-caller is playing, and has no reason to think it won’t continue.
“You see those third-down plays. That’s the thing that gets kind of lost,” Mangus said. “Everybody talks about pass percentage and this or that. The other night, prime example, it’s third-and-9, and we got a play on that has no chance. He scrambles out and goes and gets right by the first-down marker and runs over a guy and gets the first down.
“The third-down conversions that move the chains with your feet are a disheartening deal for a defensive coordinator.”
Shaw also had a 31-yard run through the middle of Kentucky’s defense that he ended with a slide, a change from his usual head-first dives.
Receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said that sophomore receiver Kane Whitehurst would get on the field on Saturday. Whitehurst, who caught a 29-yard pass for a touchdown against North Carolina, has not had a catch since and didn’t play against Vanderbilt or UCF.
Whitehurst signed with Arkansas out of high school and redshirted the 2011 season for the Razorbacks.
Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: Kaiwan Lewis (leg infection), Devin Washington (concussion), Wilds (dislocated elbow), Waldrop (sprained ankle) and Mike Matulis (shoulder).
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