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Carolina Concern: Spurrier Goes Pinkel On Clowney

jadeveon clowney-chasing-qbLast fall, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel caused his starting quarterbacks some headaches when he let the world in on the fact that James Franklin had refused a painkiller shot before the Tigers’ game with Arizona State.  “It was just too painful for him, and he didn’t want to play,” Pinkel said.

Franklin and Pinkel are now flying high again at 5-0 and their past woes are behind them.  Carolina fans should hope that some apparent friction between Steve Spurrier and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney should play out as well.

Despite bruised ribs, Clowney was expected to play on Saturday against Kentucky.  He didn’t.  Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said he was “totally surprised” that his star didn’t go.  Spurrier said more:

 

“I will just say he told me he couldn’t play, that his ribs hurt.  Couldn’t run.  Said, ‘I can’t play.’  I said, ‘That’s fine, you don’t have to play.’  We’ll move on.  He may not be able to play next week (versus Arkansas), I don’t know.  We’re not going to worry about it, I can assure you if he wants to play, we’ll welcome him to come play for the team if he wants to. 

If he doesn’t want to play, he doesn’t have to play, simple as that.  We were thinking he was going to suit up and play.  He did not practice Thursday.  Couldn’t run.  Said he couldn’t play.  Any time a player says he’s hurt, can’t play, who are we to question?  He doesn’t play.”

 

Here’s the video of Spurrier’s comments.  Draw your own conclusions:

 

Spurrier on why Clowney did not play vs. Kentucky

 

Asked about Clowney’s commitment to the team yesterday, Spurrier said, “You’ll have to ask him that.  I can’t speak for Jadeveon.”

Ouch.

But Spurrier also explained that Clowney didn’t have bruised ribs.  Instead he has a strained muscle near his rib cage.  And the Ol’ Ball Coach’s frustration came from the fact — he said — that he “didn’t know he wasn’t playing until right before the game.”

Fair enough.

But it will be interesting to see how this story develops throughout the week and the season.  Some, after all, are already writing things like this: “It’s pretty clear to me that Clowney is the one tanking for the NFL by giving up on his 2013 season.” 

Tanking the season?  Or truly injured?  On Saturday, Spurrier didn’t seem to be buying the injury bit.  In fact, he sounded a whole lot like Pinkel a year ago.

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South Carolina Plays The “Family Feud” As Spurrier Throws Another Assistant Under The Bus

Members of the South Carolina football program are going to get plenty of unwanted questions this week.  In case you missed it, the weekend wasn’t a great one for the Gamecocks.  And the lost ballgame at Georgia seems to be the least of Carolina’s worries.

After the Bulldogs had registered a 41-30 victory over the Cocks, the screeching in the postgame press conferences began.  The first comments were in regards to a on-field shoving match between linebackers coach Kirk Botkin and defensive line coach Deke Adams.  It was an argument caught on camera:

 

South Carolina Coaches FIGHT!!!

 

Told about the incident after the game, Steve Spurrier responded by saying, “Well, at least they care.”  Yesterday, he followed up: “Out of character.  Obviously, that need not happen anymore.  They’re OK now, and hopefully that will not happen again.”

Carolina’s assistants might be OK with one another, but one has to wonder how defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward feels about Spurrier tossing him under the proverbial bus following Saturday’s poor showing.  Reminiscent of previous incidents, the Ol’ Ball Coach let everyone know that the screwups on defense need to be corrected… by an underling:

 

“We’ve got to be a little more creative.  We can’t just sit there and never disguise and say, ‘Com on.’  I look out there and I see all those either redshirt freshmen or second-year guys and I’m starting to wonder if we were expecting a little bit much out of all those guys.  But it is a freshman-laden defense out there, and they’re going to take their lumps, I guess, but we’ve got to be creative.  We’re going to change our defense a little bit.  We’re not going to just stand there like we did today.  I’ll give Coach Ward some suggestions.”

 

While there was plenty of coach-on-coach crime to go around, the Gamecocks’ star player did a little griping his own self.  Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney — who Georgia steered clear of for the vast majority of the game — wasn’t happy with his lack of playmaking opportunities on Saturday.

“Very frustrating,” Clowney said.  “I told the coaches you got to put me somewhere else.  In the middle if you want to.  Somewhere I can make some plays, help my team get in position to win.”

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Neck- And Back-Stiffness Force USC’s Clowney To The Sideline

Jadeveon-Clowney-Hit-610x808If Johnny Manziel is college football’s must-watch player on offense in 2013, then South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is college football’s must-watch player on defense.  But he himself will likely do nothing more than watch for the rest of USC’s spring practice.

Last week, Clowney suffered a minor neck sprain when he collided with one of his defensive teammates during a practice drill.  He was still sore yesterday and team doctors decided not to clear him for Tuesday’s work.

According to GamecockCentral.com — the Rivals site covering USC — Clowney “will probably remain in street clothes for the final three workouts, including Saturday afternoon’s spring game.”

“My back and neck are hurting me, but I should be ok coming out of spring ball and should come around,” Clowney said.  “We’ll have to see (about practice).  That’s up to the coaches.  It’s not really about being out here.  It’s about learning the playbook.  We put in some new stuff, so all I have to do is learn the play calls.  The rest of it, I’ll catch up on.”

Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward added: “His neck and back is still stiff.  Whether he goes another snap (this spring), I don’t care.”

It’s expected Carolina will use its veterans only briefly during Saturday’s spring game, seizing the opportunity to focus on younger players instead.

Clowney’s profile was lifted into the stratosphere thanks in part to a remarkable play against Michigan in last year’s Outback Bowl.  The play was subsequently featured on ESPN somewhere north of a million times.

Clowney was an All-American last year and is expected to be the top pick in the NFL draft next spring.  There has even been talk of him being a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Earlier this year some debated whether the junior should even play this fall and risk injury.  Well, sure enough, he didn’t make it through spring practice without an injury.  But at least the injury is not believed to be a serious one.

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USC’s Clowney Is Back And Faster Than Ever

When you look at plays like the one below, you probably find yourself wondering just how dang fast South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney really is.

 

Jadeveon Clowney's Top Play: Hit vs. Michigan

 

Well, if ESPN.com’s Tom Rinaldi is correct, the All-American and future #1 NFL pick ran a 4.5 40-yard dash during Carolina’s winter workouts.  This for a guy who’s 6-6, 272 pounds according to the Gamecocks’ official website.

According to the Yahoo! Sports’ Dr. Saturday blog, only 22 players at the recent NFL combine ran a faster time than Clowney.  None were defensive linemen.

Now normally would we say two things about Clowney’s reported 40-time.  First, all it takes is a friendly trigger on the stopwatch to help someone’s time.  Second, football isn’t run on a track, it’s played on turf, in pads, with a lot of other guys running at and around you.  But we’ll not make those points in relation to Clowney because we know that he does play just fast on the field.  You saw it above.  And if you follow recruiting, you probably remember the first play from Clowney’s highlight reel below, too.

 

Jadeveon Clowney Senior Highlights

 

Clowney is as much a freak at the defensive end position as Randy Moss was as a receiver.  If his career progresses as everyone believes it will, folks will be saying “this end reminds me of Clowney,” the way they’ve said it about wideouts and Moss for a decade.  And we’re talking about on-field athletic ability, not off-field tomfoolery.

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Wow Evening Headlines 9/20/2012

Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson cleared to play against Rutgers
Arkansas coach John L. Smith’s bankruptcy filings show $25.7 million in debt
Tennessee sophomore Justin Coleman is now a starting cornerback – replacing senior Marsalis Teague
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips says he won’t use UK’s 25-year losing streak to Florida as motivation this week
Missouri QB James Franklin is expected to play against South Carolina after a shoulder injury kept him out last week
South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward says Missouri will be the fastest-paced team USC has ever played
ESPN’s Mel Kiper says: “I think Alabama is a little overrated.”
A bomb threat at Ole Miss on Tuesday was directed at the school’s football players
Keep up with all your SEC news at MrSEC.com or by downloading the MrSEC app for your smart phone

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Will South Carolina Commit Visit Elsewhere?

South Carolina linebacker commitment David Johnson from Lithonia (Ga.) High School is considering taking visits to other schools.

“I don’t know, I’m going to make a decision after the season is over,” Johnson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If I take a visit and I’m already committed, it feels like I’m doing something wrong, you know what I mean? But I don’t know. I’m gong to talk to my coaches and (South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward) about it and see if it’s OK.”

Auburn and Vanderbilt have continued to recruit Johnson. Georgia has limited communication with Johnson and doesn’t appear to be in the picture.

“I don’t know why they aren’t recruiting me hard,” Johnson said. “I can’t go begging (UGA recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner). If they’re not going to recruit me, then that’s their loss. I will work hard for anybody I go to, like I will at South Carolina. If Georgia’s not trying to recruit me, then they are missing out on a great athlete, a hard worker and a great person.”

And a prospect who still seems very likely to sign with South Carolina.

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Carolina’s Secondary Gets A Little Younger, Thinner Due To Injury

South Carolina officials announced Monday that senior cornerback Akeem Auguste and redshirt freshman running back Shon Carson will both be out indefinitely due to injuries.  No offense to Carson, but the loss of Auguste — a starter — is the bigger concern for Gamecock fans.

Auguste suffered a torn muscle in his right thigh during a weekend scrimmage.  He underwent a procedure Sunday afternoon and is expected to miss the first month of the season before being re-evaluated by doctors.  Auguste missed most of last season with a foot injury.

Auguste had already been kept out of much of the Cocks’ fall camp with an injury in his groin area, but he was cleared to return on Friday.  Then on Saturday he aggravated the injury, leading to the “procedure.”

For Carolina, the secondary had only one returning starter — senior safety DJ Swearinger — entering camp.  With Auguste out of commission, new defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward will have to rely on youngsters and inexperienced upperclassmen to fill the slots around Swearinger.

Next Thursday in Nashville, Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers will most definitely try to exploit what on paper looks to be the Gamecocks’ biggest defensive weakness.  That makes the pass rush provided by guys like Jadeveon Clowney all the more important to protect the back end of Carolina’s defense.

As for Carson, he underwent surgery on his left wrist.  But Marcus Lattimore and Kenny Miles are 1-2 on Steve Spurrier’s depth chart.  That injury — while unfortunate — the Cocks can afford.  The one to Auguste?  A much bigger deal.

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Moody Switches Commitment From Vandy To South Carolina

Defensive back Chris Moody has decided to switch his commitment from Vanderbilt to South Carolina.

The McDonough, Ga., standout made the decision after taking an official visit to South Carolina during the weekend.

South Carolina defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Lorenzo Ward appeared to make the difference for the Gamecocks.

“The relationship I had with the position coach was greater than Vandy,” Moody told GoGamecocks.com. “He has put out a lot of good players. He’s been recruiting me a whole year and after I committed elsewhere, he still recruited me hard.”

Moody is the 25th commitment for South Carolina’s class of 2012.

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SEC Headlines – 1/24/12 Part One

1.  Florida hoopster Patric Young says his ankle is improving.

2.  Gator defensive tackle Leon Orr gets deferred prosecution for week arrest.

3.  Georgia will pin its hopes to freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope when top-ranked Kentucky comes to town tonight.

4.  Details continue to emerge regarding the “family violence” arrest of Bulldog starting cornerback Sanders Commings.

5.  Kentucky’s John Calipari says coaching stars isn’t as easy as it looks.

6.  And he’s also not feeling good about the Cats’ #1 ranking.

7.  South Carolina is spending nearly $40 million on a new video board and a new tailgating area at Williams-Brice Stadium.

8.  Lorenzo Ward intends to coach the Gamecocks’ defense from the sideline in 2012.

9.  There shouldn’t be too much bad blood between ex-Purdue guys Cuonzo Martin and Kevin Stallings when Tennessee travels to Vanderbilt tonight.

10.  Martin says he’s worried about the Vols’ execution, not “Memorial Magic.”

11.  Vandy’s Stallings is focused on stopping new UT addition Jarnell Stokes inside.

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SEC Headlines – 12/28/11

I’ll be doing television work — my actual job — for most of the day today, so we’ll continue our headline-heavy holiday stretch.  Next week, we’ll be back in the swing of things.

And, yes, we will have plenty of opinions regarding the SEC’s new schedule after it’s released.  Until then…

1.  Despite internet rumors and reports, Will Muschamp isn’t ready to hire a new offensive coordinator or a new strength coach yet.

2.  Jeff Demps and Deonte Thompson missed bowl practice for the Gators yesterday (though Demps is expected back today).

3.  This writer says the way Urban Meyer left Florida cements Steve Spurrier as the Gators’ greatest coach ever.

4.  Georgia eeked by Winthrop 92-86 in overtime last night.

5.  Isaiah Crowell sat out of bowl practice yesterday because he was “feeling under the weather.”

6.  UGA tight end Aron White — a Columbia, Missouri native — says Mizzou will have to get used to SEC line play.

7.  Kentucky freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist says he’s “just a winner” and “that’s it.”

8.  John Calipari wants his team focused on the Lamar Cardinals — who UK plays tonight — and not the Louisville Cardinals who’ll visit Lexington this weekend.

9.  Call off the search, Lorenzo Ward has been promoted to replace Ellis Johnson at South Carolina.

10.  Ward is hopeful CC Whitlock and Jadeveon Clowney will be eligible to play in the Gamecocks’ bowl game.

11.  Cuonzo Martin says Tennessee’s 5-6 basketball team has yet to hit its stride.

12.  The UT football program will likely save money by not going bowling this season.

13.  Vandy’s James Franklin doesn’t want Jordan Rodgers to feel like he has to live up to his brother’s success with Green Bay.

14.  The younger Rodgers has had a more difficult road than his brother.

15.  Alabama will return to bowl practice this afternoon after a four-day break.

16.  Tide players believe playing in the BCS title game two years ago gives them an advantage over LSU.

17.  Gene Chizik will serve as an ESPN analyst for this year’s Bama-LSU championship game.

18.  Auburn players say they’ll be better on defense in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

19.  The Tigers’ quarterbacks aren’t sure what their rotation will be in Atlanta.

20.  Arkansas linebacker Alonzo Highsmith is looking forward to a big 2012.

21.  Looks like the Cowboys Stadium matchup between the Hogs and Texas A&M is done forever.

22.  The Razorbacks will be looking to stay perfect at home when Charlotte visits tonight.

23.  LSU is back at it after their players’ holiday break.

24.  Quarterback Jordan Jefferson remains at ease.

25.  O-lineman Josh Dworaczyk is unlikely to play in the BCS title game.

26.  Ole Miss’ new coaching staff is playing catch-up on the recruiting trail.

27.  Murphy Holloway — the Rebels’ leading rebounder — is listed as day to day with a high ankle sprain.

28.  MSU defenders Fletcher Cox and Johnthan Banks (correct spelling) are weighing their NFL options.

29.  The Bulldog basketball team will face a tough test from #6 Baylor tonight in Dallas.

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