Jadeveon Clowney has plenty of reasons to be frustrated about his start to the 2013 season. After a winding down camp by being challenged by head coach Steve Spurrier, Clowney was lacking in highlight film material in a Thursday night game against North Carolina. On Saturday the Gamecocks gave up 41 points to Georgia in a key SEC East match-up. After the game Clowney took some time to vent.
Asked about his reaction following the loss to Georgia, Clowney said “Very frustrating. I told coach ‘man, you gotta put me somewhere else, in the middle, somewhere where I can make some plays,” according to Michael Haney of Columbia, South Carolina radio station 107.5 The Game. Clowney went on to admit Georgia managed to take him out of the game, by diverting the offense away from him as often as possible and adding extra blockers to keep him from breaking through in to the back field. At times Clowney broke through anyway, but the offensive game plan employed by the Bulldogs and North Carolina has had one constant; play away from Clowney.
From an offensive point of view, it makes total sense. Clowney is among the top defensive players in the game, so why would any offense want to try to challenge him directly? It makes zero sense. What offenses are doing is recognizing where Clowney is lining up and running plays that quickly move away from him on the opposite side of the field or are designed to get rid of the football after Clowney makes his move in to the backfield, freeing up space beyond his assignment.
While Clowney may be lacking on the highlights fans are anticipating and starving for after watching his hit against Michigan on a near loop this entire offseason, he should also see how he is impacting the game. Scouts will surely notice this and take that in to consideration before the 2014 NFL Draft. Clowney will continue to have that sort of impact for the remainder of the season, and there will also be opportunities to break free regardless of what the opposing offense attempts to do.
Clowney will have some highlights before the year is done. It is just a matter of “when,” not “if.”