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Clowney: “I didn’t really practice hard last year”

USC football practice AP

For those looking for clues to Jadeveon Clowney’s lack of production this year, look no further than what he told the New York Times on Sunday.

“My practice habits have picked up way more than they did last year,” he said. “Last year, I really didn’t practice real hard. This year, I came in with a different mind-set, like I want to be that guy, I want to have no flaws in my game.”

Though he might be trying harder this year — or so he says — it’s not resulting in more production for South Carolina’s pterodactyl-like defense end. Seven games into the season, he has 24 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Granted, he has missed a full game due to injury and has been generally banged up, but he’s also showed a serious lack of effort at times. His comment about his practice methods last season gives us a window into his overall mind set.

In a way, the stuff going on with Clowney can be blamed almost exclusively on the ‘curse’ of his extraordinary physical ability. Because he’s such a major talent, it makes no sense to have him playing normal assignment football in the Gamecock defensive scheme. If you had a 6-foot-6, 275 pound player who could run like the wind and change direction on a dime, would you waste that ability by making him play contain on a sweep to his side so another player could make the tackle? Probably not. Because he’s so insanely talented, you’d do exactly what Gamecocks defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward does — you’d line him up all over the place and tell him to go chase the ball. The upside to that is that Clowney gets to run wild in space and this often results in spectacular plays. This style caters to his strengths. The downside is that Clowney’s football instincts have become dulled as a result. Because he freelances so much, he is often out of position and teams are finding it easy to scheme away from him. Since he’s not making as many plays, he gets frustrated and dogs it much of the time.

Clowney’s not going to be able to do that in the NFL, which is a much more serious business. While he’s a phenomenal talent, the gap between his physical ability and that of his opponents will be narrower at the next level. He’s going to have to learn to play within a defensive scheme and use his talent wisely, which will mean practicing hard and becoming a student of the game.

If he does that, there’s no reason he can’t become one of the all-time great ends.

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9 Responses to “Clowney: “I didn’t really practice hard last year””
  1. canetic says: Oct 28, 2013 6:06 PM

    Clowney has talent, but he doesn’t seem to have any drive. If he had Johnny Manziel’s desire to win he could be a one-man defense. Instead he’s the defensive Randy Moss.

  2. rollinghighwayblues says: Oct 28, 2013 6:20 PM

    Anyone that is surprised is an absolute fool.

  3. spreadthecheese says: Oct 28, 2013 6:51 PM

    Don’t universities train football players on how to talk to the media? He was trying to say he’s worked hard this off-season but instead he made himself sound lazy.

    Dude needs a PR rep in a bad, bad way.

  4. irishdodger says: Oct 28, 2013 11:26 PM

    Heisman 2013!

  5. 8to80texansblog says: Oct 28, 2013 11:38 PM

    Clowney is having a better year than last year that is going under the radar.

    But he might have cost himself draft position with some of his antics. The Spurrier incident, saying on several occasions he didn’t try last year, or he was out of shape.

    He’s Mario Williams 2.0. A very capable player, probably a few pro bowls in his future, but HOF…. doubtful. Thing is, guys with that talent level have never had to really work to be successful. He will a the next level…

  6. polegojim says: Oct 29, 2013 12:51 AM

    Clowned Again!

    Tell us something we DIDN’T already know…

    Most of us have been saying the same for a year!

    I’m sure that’s what NFL teams want to hear!

  7. louhudson23 says: Oct 29, 2013 2:34 AM

    It all Nick Saban’s fault for being so short…another big pick check casher that some team will waste time and dollars on ….Some people have drive,and some have talent and some have both .

  8. gettingpwned says: Oct 29, 2013 8:37 AM

    But remember, he should have sat out the year… (that was sarcastic btw)

  9. frankdatank23 says: Oct 29, 2013 8:39 PM

    He’s been told he’s an elite, once in a generation prospect for years. Sure fire first defender off the board in his class. He’s a kid with everything to lose. Call it over-precaution. Would you be laying it all out there in this game when your virtually guaranteed to a quick 5 mil for you and yours ?

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