Despite the fact that the Michigan-South Carolina Outback Bowl was a highly entertaining, back-and-forth postseason game that featured a game-winning touchdown pass with just 11 seconds remaining — with some hack even listing it as the top bowl game of the 2012-13 season — just about the only thing that anyone wanted to talk about in the aftermath of the Gamecocks’ win was Jadeveon Clowney.
Specifically, the talk of the water cooler was Clowney’s hit on Vincent Smith that sent the Wolverine running back’s helmet on a deep post pattern in the opposite direction of the line of scrimmage.
For those who may have forgotten about it or, for some reason, never actually witnessed it, here’s the video of The Hit:
Now, while mere mortals such as you and I who would likely have ceased to exist after such a hit, Smith was just fine, other than having to hail a cab to retrieve his headgear. He was fine physically at the time and, two weeks later, he’s fine mentally despite the replay being seemingly shown on a loop and becoming the subject of ridicule for getting blown up by the likely overall No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Smith, though, even disputes the notion of getting blown up, answering “oh yeah, it did” when asked by Michael Rothstein of WolverineNation.com if the hit looked worse than what it actually was. “I saw it coming and I couldn’t do anything about it,” Smith added.
As is ofttimes the case with such a situation, however, there were myriad factors other than “dude, Clowney’s a freak!” involved in the hit, a confluence of events that Rothstein does an excellent job in summing up:
The simple explanation of what happened is Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan called a change in the blocking scheme, and unfortunately for Smith it gave Clowney an open path to him. The Gamecocks called a blitz before the play — something Smith recognized in pre-play reads — and his fullback chose to block the cornerback coming from the left side, where the run was supposed to go, instead of trying to take Clowney up the middle.
Before the play, Smith figured he was going to be hit in the backfield and would have to break a tackle, either from the corner or someone up the middle. He didn’t anticipate everything falling apart as it did just as quarterback Devin Gardner tried to give him the ball.
In the end, everybody’s likely correct. Yes, it was a helluva play and hit by Clowney as has been universally proclaimed, and yes it likely looked worse than what it actually was as Smith claims.
For his part, Smith said after viewing it on replays afterward, “I forgot about it” and moved on. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, though, it’s not an exploding gif that will be going away at any point in the near future.
(Photo credit: South Carolina athletics)