Jadeveon Clowney is a once in a generation physical talent. At 6-7, 270lbs with unnatural speed, he’s an obvious tip to go #1 overall next year. Even a team like Oakland — badly in need of a quarterback and with a decent chance of owning the top pick in 2014 — will find it hard to pass on Clowney.
But in tonight’s college football opener, he struggled to have much of an impact in difficult conditions.
Overall South Carolina handled UNC with relative ease. They dominated up front on both sides of the ball.
All eyes were on Clowney.
Unsurprisingly, so were the cameras. It’s going to be difficult to watch the Gamecocks this year on today’s evidence. The broadcast followed Clowney around until you were sick of the sight of him. We saw him rushing the passer, sitting down, in conversation, contemplating his next meal. We can only be grateful he didn’t require a bathroom break.
And when we saw him struggling in the hot conditions, we heard the backlash. The guy who was supposed to be this unbeatable dominating force was being usurped by the weather.
As North Carolina mounted a long drive to start the third quarterback, Clowney and the rest of the line started to struggle. But because all the focus was on Clowney, suddenly he was being singled out for criticism.
Can a guy who loafs win the Heisman? No. Clowney loafs.
— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) August 30, 2013
I’m not here to defend the guy too much. At times it looked ugly as he dragged himself off the field for a breather. At one point he was loafing onto the field as UNC were snapping the ball. For a player vaunted so much, it wasn’t a good look.
Yet it only took one look across the line to see the rest of South Carolina’s line were also lagging. And UNC’s defensive line didn’t fair any better a couple of drives later.
Clowney had a solid first half, rushing from the edge and dominating a couple of times. In one play he flew past a blocker off the edge, shrugged off a running back and pressured Brynn Renner into a risky throw. You can see what all the fuss is about. The guy will be a superstar in the NFL.
The other things is he faced almost constant double teams. Good luck throwing a blanket on him at the next level.
So I’ll ignore the heavy criticism for now. We’ll find out if there’s a genuine conditioning issue with Clowney over the next few weeks, especially after an off-season involving talk he could theoretically sit out the year. Others have questioned his work ethic in college and “specialist treatment” on campus.
He looked completely gassed in the fourth quarter. But it’s August 29th. Let’s see what he looks like in September before we jump to too many conclusions. He failed to register a sack before the game was stopped in the fourth quarter due to an electrical storm.
– UNC’s junior receiver Mark McNeill might be one to watch. He’s 6-4 and 215lbs. McNeill didn’t play much as a sophomore but flashed a little in this game.
– I like Brynn Renner, the North Carolina quarterback, but I struggle to see him as anything more than a fringe NFL prospect.
– UNC left tackle James Hurst had a decent outing. He’s a possible early round selection at left tackle in 2014.