A swirl of controversy has surrounded the Junior from Rock Hill this season. Is he the best? Is he a bust? Draft status... Flu... Testy ribs... Hype! Barrett Sallee over at Bleacher Report shares his thoughts:
His hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith in the 2013 Outback Bowl played on highlight shows virtually all offseason. It raised the bar to an unrealistic level in which people expect things like that to happen every time Carolina hits the field.
That's not football.
Instead of serving as fodder for highlights, opposing teams simply ran away from Clowney to limit his impact. That, coupled with his viruses, rib injury and a nagging foot issue that he's had since high school, have created the impression that he's out of shape, overhyped and uninterested.
That's incredibly unfair to Clowney.
Here are my thoughts on Clowney. The dude is a beast. His hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith was on highlight reels across the country because it was picturesque. It was a form tackle times ten. It was an inspiration to fans of pigskin in an era where the game of football is being pussified with limits on hitting and rags being tossed at athletes for "targeting" and other BS intended to take the teeth out of the sport. But that hit got Clowney thinking ahead. The NFL. Money. Fame.
Clowney is distracted. Number 7 had 13 sacks in 2012. This year he has 2. Two. Dos. That's underachieving to a dramatic degree. No matter what his defenders say. But we're not Kentucky.
You can bet that Clowney is suiting up mentally for this game. He talked shit this summer directly at our QB. And like any fierce competitor he's going to show up and back up his words. We have to respect his presence. We cannot ignore the fact that the heartbeat of our rival's defense will be gunning for the heartbeat of our offense. So we are forced to ask ourselves this question:
How do we stop Clowney?
I say we go right at him. I say we come out on first down and punch him in the jaw so hard his mind flash forwards directly to daydreams of draft day. Let's take him mentally out of the cold november of Columbia and smack his ass down in a cozy banquet chain in New York City. Let's run right at him on first down. Then again on second down. On third down. On the first drive. On the second drive. And on the last drive of the game.
Because this is Clemson vs. South Carolina. I am aware that running right at Clowney makes no strategic sense whatsoever to some people. That's the point. This is hate. We all have dear friends that went to school in Cola and root for their Cocks. And we hate them on this day. It's irrational machismo. But that's what you sign up for when you follow college football in the Deep South of the United States of America.
I want us to have bullseye-vision slapped all over Clowney's facemask. We must make him the focal point of this hate. I want us launching human projectiles at him play after play after play. And not just McDowell or Brooks or Howard.
I want us to snap to Tajh in shotgun on the first damn play of the game and have him run right at an unblocked Clowney for a streetball-style score drill to see who's the man that goes forward.