USC Gamecocks Football

SEC notebook: Gamecocks catch Arkansas in transition year

Bret Bielema
Bret Bielema

If first-year Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has his way, South Carolina’s game against Arkansas will be so physical that it will affect the Gamecocks the next week against Tennessee.

“I want to bring a style of play to Arkansas that you feel us play on Saturday, Sunday, and hopefully a little bit on Monday and Tuesday because I think that’s a formula that works very, very well,” Bielema said Tuesday on the first day of the SEC’s annual spring meetings and the Sandestin Beach Hilton.

South Carolina will play the Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Ark., on Oct. 12, and it will see a much different team than the one that threw the ball so effectively against it under Bobby Petrino.

“We want to run the ball, we want to maintain the clock, we want to throw play action passes and score in the red zone,” Bielema said. “It’s not sexy but it’s effective.”

This year’s game is scheduled to be the teams’ last as annual opponents on the SEC schedule, and the Gamecocks likely will catch Arkansas in a transition year, Bielema said.

“You can’t just automatically jump into that formula,” he said. “We don’t have the same type of people right now. It’s going to take a little bit of time to get those type of people. There hasn’t been a huge amount of emphasis on big and strong up front. We will gradually grow that position a little bit.”

Bielema, who spent seven seasons at Wisconsin, is one of four newcomers to the head football coaches’ meetings here. He is joined by first-year coaches at Kentucky (Mark Stoops), Tennessee (Butch Jones) and Auburn (Gus Malzahn).

“I do think the SEC is different in all facets,” said Jones, who came from Central Michigan. “That’s what makes it the best football conference in the country. Everything is highlighted. Our fans are very knowledgeable. You are competing against the best of the best. Everyone asks me, ‘What’s the difference being in the SEC?’ I say, ‘Every day it’s fourth-and-one for the national championship.’ It doesn’t matter if it’s recruiting, if it’s practices, if it’s (speaking engagements). It doesn’t matter. Everything is at an all-time level.”

More praise for Clowney

South Carolina junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has a fan in Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

“I think he’s the most dominant player in our league, especially on defense, and I think he plays a position where you can disrupt the game and he certainly does that extremely well,” Saban said.

Clowney set a South Carolina single-season record with 13 sacks last season and has a 14-to-1 shot to be the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, according to odds released Tuesday by Bovada.

“It’s no surprise to me,” Saban said. “We thought he was the best player in the country (coming out of Rock Hill, S.C., in 2010) and was going to be this kind of player. They have done a fantastic job with him at South Carolina.”

Saban compared Clowney to defensive end Jason Taylor, who Saban coached with the Miami Dolphins.

Holloway’s Hail Mary

Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy was not surprised that Murphy Holloway took a chance on making an NFL team. He was also not surprised the experiment ended quickly.

“He looks the part, but he (was just) running around in shorts catching balls,” Kennedy said. “That’s all fun but I told him, ‘You have to block people bigger than you.’ ”

That turned out to be the sticking point for the former South Carolina and Rebels basketball player. He was cut by the Baltimore Ravens after his first rookie minicamp. The Ravens signed Holloway as an undrafted free agent.

“He figured out pretty quickly that he may need to stick to what he knows,” Kennedy said.

NFL scouts reached out to Holloway following his basketball career at Ole Miss, where he averaged 14.5 points and 9.7 rebounds as a senior.

“You would be amazed at how they recruited him,” Kennedy said.

Holloway, a 6-foot-7 Irmo native, signed with Ole Miss out of Dutch Fork High School and played their two years before transferring to South Carolina for family reasons. Holloway sat out the 2010-2011 season as a member of the Gamecocks before transferring back to Ole Miss. He is back in the basketball gym now and hopes to continue his career in that sport professionally, Kennedy said.

Home sweet home

The SEC is exploring naming a “primary” site for its men’s basketball tournament, league commissioner Mike Slive said. Slive mentioned the success of the football championship game in Atlanta and the baseball tournament in Hoover, Ala., when announcing the news.

Slive declined to say the league was looking for a permanent site but that distinction seemed mainly a bargaining tool. Asked about the possibility of Nashville, Tenn., as that primary or permanent site, Slive replied, “It’s a good city.”