Welcome to the future.
Between them, North Carolina and Georgia have answered the question posed Saturday by ESPN: “How do you stop Jadeveon Clowney?” The answer it seems is go fast and go the other way.
Clowney, South Carolina’s All-America defensive end, had his first sack of the season Saturday but finished with three tackles and was mostly away from the action in a 41-30 loss to Georgia. The Bulldogs, who borrowed some of the fast-paced offense the Tar Heels used to keep Clowney gasping for air last week, sent most of their running game away from Clowney.
“They threw it quick and ran away from me today and the game plan worked out for them,” Clowney said.
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This is how opponents will handle Clowney the rest of the season, so now the Gamecocks coaches and Clowney have to adjust. As for the coaching staff, Clowney said he asked during the game to be moved to different positions more often, and coach Steve Spurrier is likely to suggest that himself this week.
The notion that you can hide the 6-foot-6, 272-pound Clowney is foolish. Making opponents think more about where he might be can’t be a bad thing, though.
As for Clowney, he needs to handle his frustration differently. Some of his postgame comments won’t sound good the day after, such as: “I just can’t do it by myself. You have to depend on all the guys up front, and I am depending on my guys up front. When they are running their way, I just tell them to bow up and step up and be a man and take it on. You have to step it up.”
In person, the comments didn’t seem to be offered with any ill intent or disrespect to his teammates, but in print they might sound that way. Clowney must realize that he is, along with Spurrier, now the face of South Carolina football. No matter his statistics nor the position he lines up in, he can have a dramatic impact on the Gamecocks’ 2013 season and so can his words.