You see in sport, and often in life, there are times when things are not in your favor going into a situation. That's what's going on here – odds are that Clowney will be dominant against the Bulldogs – he's never been anything but.
Still, the task at hand for Gates is pretty simple – get after Clowney's ass as often as possible and see what happens from there.
In a lot of ways the collective conscience that is the chatter chamber in media today – social media, TV and message boards – is a never-ending echo of the uninformed celebration of the spectacular… giving the little moments no real mention.
The problem with celebration of the spectacular is that spectacular isn't usually what wins contest – usually steady wins the race or the game. There are always game-changing moments… they usually come as a result of someone not doing something unspectacular right to begin with.
Make no mistake – Clowney is spectacular. But the coverage of him has been spectacular as well. He looked like a rocket ship on the famous "helmet" play in the 2013 Outback Bowl. He looked like he'd not jogged a mile before after the 2013 North Carolina game.
Both can't be true.
Clowney's famous "helmet" play is a great example of something spectacular happening when someone didn't do the unspectacular. No one from Michigan even bothered considering blocking Clowney… the rest was history repeated ad nauseam from that point forward.
What Gates needs to do is to make sure is that he gives effort on every single play. He can't take a play off – even if Clowney does. And Clowney has been known to take a few plays off here and there.
There will come a time in the game where, quite frankly, Gates has to beat Clowney. Now that may sound ridiculous, but its really not. I'm not saying he's got to beat him the entire game – that nearly never happens with an offensive lineman. What I am saying is that when its third and six Gates can't get beat – it's that simple. And not getting beat is beating Clowney.
Just do it – physically confront the person in front of you no matter the jersey number they have on. People tackle Todd Gurley on third and short – Just do it… block Clowney on third and long.
There's a slew of things that could make Gates' job easier on him – namely the Dawgs not getting into third-and-long situations – but that will happen inevitably. Gates could also get help from left guard Kolton Houston, fullback Quayvon Hicks or tight end Artie Lynch. But the end game will be Gates' to solve.
And he just needs to do it. I go to games all of the time when the dominant player doesn't do the spectacular… and its not because they don't want to its because the unspectacular is being done to them.
Simple? Not at all.
Necessary? You know it.
There are times in life when you just have to get the job done – and this is one of those times for Gates.
Just do it.