Kentucky v South Carolina

Clowney ‘situation’ brewing in South Carolina?


In the offseason, there were some who thought Jadeveon Clowney would — or should — sit out the 2013 season in order to protect his presumptive status as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2014 draft.

Just prior to South Carolina’s game with Kentucky Saturday night, the All-American made a decision that has some thinking along those lines yet again.

The defensive end did not play in the Gamecocks’ win, telling the coaching staff that his bruised ribs, which kept him out of practice Thursday, would not allow him to get on the field.  Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward called Clowney’s decision a surprise, saying he thought the lineman would be available.

Ward did not find out he wouldn’t have Clowney at his disposal until shortly before kickoff.

It was head coach Steve Spurrier, though, who seemed the most perturbed in his postgame talk with the media.  The OBC began the Clowney round of questioning by stating “I don’t want to get into all of that,” so of course he proceeded to get into all of that.  From

“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, I don’t know. We’re not going to worry about it, I can assure you that 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.”

This is the second time in less than two months that Spurrier has used very public snark when it came to a Clowney injury.  During summer camp in mid-August, Clowney and several teammates were the targets or Spurrier’s words, with the coach sending thinly-veiled threats that they would sit out the opener if they didn’t get back on the practice field.

“We’ve got a bunch of hurt guys who act like they are really hurt so right now they may not play.” Spurrier said at the time. “I’ll handle those guys. We’re not depending on them. We can still field a team.”

Asked after the game if he will play against Arkansas next Saturday, Clowney said, “I don’t know.”  When asked the same question, Ward said, “We’ll see.”

In fairness to Clowney, he dealt with the shoulder issue that Spurrier downplayed and now is apparently struggling with what he says is a rib issue.  Additionally, he’ll undergo surgery following the 2013 season to take care of bone spurs that he’s dealt with since his high school days.

Whether because of the injuries or other factors, Clowney has not had the type of statistical season expected from a player who was a preseason Heisman favorite.  Add in this latest off-field drama and, well, as talented as Clowney is, the fact that he will bolt for the NFL draft next April may be a blessing in disguise for all involved.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.