No Clowney-ing Around

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier talks about the injury issues and availability of star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (6-6, 274) as his No. 14 Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1) prepare for this Saturday's road game at Arkansas (3-3, 0-2).

The Old Ball Coach seems a little bit miffed at the young man who went into the college football season regarded as the nation's best defender.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier was none too pleased about junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney's late decision to not play in a 35-28 win at Kentucky last Saturday.

(If Clowney) wants to play, we will welcome him to come play for the team if he wants," Spurrier said after the game. "But if he doesn't want to play, he doesn't have to play. Simple as that."

Spurrier, whose No. 14 Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1) visit Arkansas (3-3, 0-2) this week, seemed most upset about the timing of the decision by Clowney (6-6, 274).

"It was just we didn't know he wasn't playing until right before the game," Spurrier said Sunday. "That is always a little frustrating. Usually the trainer or doctor comes and tells you this guy is out, and that did not happen last night. But on the other side if a player is in pain and can't play, I don't want him to play. None of us do."

Spurrier said Sunday that Clowney's injury – which kept him from practicing Thursday - is classified as a rib strain and his availability for this week is up in the air.

"We will have to wait through the week to see if he will be able to play," Spurrier said. "Obviously he doesn't have a broken leg or anything that would keep him out two to three weeks but if he has a muscle strain around the rib area, we will have to see how long it keeps him out."

Spurrier hopes that treatment this week will get Clowney on the field against Arkansas, who had won three straight and five of six games in the series between the two schools until South Carolina's 38-20 win in Columbia last season.

Clowney had two tackles for lost yardage in that game.

"Hopefully, with treatment and so forth he will be well enough to play this coming week but we will see," Spurrier said. "It's not a big story. He was in pain, couldn't play. We will see if he's going to be in pain and not play or not in pain and can play this week."

Clowney, who many project as the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft, has just 12 tackles and two sacks this season as teams have run away from him and he has battled bone spurs in his right foot.

He's having a hard time living up to the 13 sacks he had last season while being named the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year.

"It's not a one-man game. It's a team sport," Spurrier said. "Jadeveon is playing hard, he's playing well, I think he's played very hard. Got two guys blocking him about all the time."

The Gamecocks, whose defensive coordinator is former Arkansas assistant Lorenzo Ward, are giving up 25.8 points per game - a full touchdown more than they did last season.

"We didn't give up any long passes, so that was progress," Spurrier said. "I thought they [Kentucky] would do better against us. I think they've got good players and good coaches. They play hard. Anytime a team plays hard and smart, and they play pretty smart, you're going to get a good test.

"We don't play real smart," Spurrier added. "We can't tackle very well. I don't know how you change that, but we'll keep working with them. Our guys are trying hard, and that's all you can say as a coach, just keep trying the best you can, and we'll put you in a position to play. We're happy with our players effort wise."

Spurrier defended Ward last week on the SEC Teleconference.

"I'll tell you what kind of job he's doing," Spurrier said. "We were 11-2 last year, and he won the bowl game the year before as defensive coordinator. So his record as defensive coordinator is 16-3, and if you check the history of South Carolina football, he's the winningest defensive coordinator, percentage-wise, in the history of the school. So that's how he's doing, OK?"

The offense is carrying the load for South Carolina while averaging 476.4 yards of total offense with a balanced attack that is 26th in the country in rushing and 44th in passing.

"That's just sort of the way we played," Spurrier said. "Other team stays out there a while, we stayed out there a while, lot of seven-minute drives. We have not made a lot happen rushing the passer, knocking the ball loose. We haven't had much of that this year, although we got some turnovers at Central Florida...That was very helpful in beating those guys. Other than that, we're not a team that gets a lot of turnovers."

Tailback Mike Davis (5-9, 214) had 21 carries for 106 yards rushing against Kentucky and has rushed for 614 yards this season with eight touchdowns.

Quarterback Connor Shaw returned from an injury to go 17-of-20 passing for 262 yards and rush for 50 yards last week in the win over Wildcats and is completing almost 70 percent of his passes this season.

"We feel really fortunate," Spurrier said. "We had no turnovers on offense. We won the game, well we barely won the game, but it is what it is. We can't slow down anybody much in the second half. But we're 4-1, and we're getting ready for Arkansas next week.

"... Connor Shaw played a heck of a game, and Mike Davis had crucial runs when we needed him," Spurrier added. " It was a good win. It's always fun to be tested."

South Carolina has beaten North Carolina, Central Florida, Vanderbilt and Kentucky while losing at Georgia and has shown a trend to lose big leads in the second half so far this season.

The Gamecocks led the Wildcats 27-7 early in the third quarter before allowing its foe to look like "the Green Bay Packers" in the second half per Spurrier.

"We're still winning, so that makes it not as tough," Spurrier said. "We don't like it, but if that's who we are that's the kind of team we're going to be all year it looks like. We're going to try and change it though. I'm not going to be negative today. I told myself I'm going to quit being negative. I hope I haven't been too negative, I've just been giving facts out.

"Our guys are trying - some of them are not trying the right way," Spurrier added. "They're doing their own crap, and I'm not going to mention any names, you all watched it. I think we will make some changes."

Jadeveon Clowney makes his move against Arkansas last season.

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