South Carolina might use defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as part-time middle linebacker
COLUMBIA — South Carolina lined up defensive end Melvin Ingram at defensive tackle last season to get him in one-on-one mismatches in pass rushing situations. The Gamecocks will do that again this season with other ends, particularly Jadeveon Clowney, who impressed as a true freshman in 2011 when he was the No. 3 end.
But Clowney as a part-time middle linebacker?
Yes, USC’s coaching staff is considering that as well, said coach Steve Spurrier.
“We’re going to move him all over the place,” Spurrier said after Monday’s practice. “I think our opponents know that. We’ve got to put him where, hopefully, most of the time he’s one-on-one with somebody. We did that somewhat with Melvin. Maybe could have done it even a little bit more with Melvin inside because he’s very quick, like Jadeveon, certainly.
“Yeah, we’re going to teach him some middle linebacker. There’s all kinds of things you can do, as long as you’ve got 11 of them out there. It’s a pass rush game almost now, as everybody knows.”
With passing being a major part of the college game, Spurrier wants to put the 6-6, 256-pound Clowney in the best possible position to maximize his pass rushing skills. Though he did not start last season, Clowney ranked second on the team behind Ingram with eight sacks and tied for first with six quarterback hurries.
Cornerback McWilliams out with knee injury
Cornerback Rico McWilliams’ first season at USC is over before it really even started. During Saturday’s practice, USC’s second of the preseason, McWilliams was running down the field and covering true freshman wide receiver Shaq Roland when he stepped on Roland and twisted his knee.
McWilliams tore a ligament in his knee and will undergo season-ending surgery, Spurrier said. He will be a redshirt freshman in 2013, which would have been the case if he redshirted this season while working with the scout team. But now he won’t be able to practice. McWilliams was rated the No. 26 corner recruit in the Class of 2011 by Rivals.com.
No hesitation for sophomore Williams
USC’s strong safety last season, DeVonte Holloman, was big for that position at 6-2 and 232 pounds. Holloman is now the spur outside linebacker, and USC has a more normal-sized strong safety: 5-11, 205-pound sophomore Brison Williams.
As he prepares for his first season starting, Williams said he must improve on “being physical” and “getting off blocks and tackling better.” He also hopes to cater the position to his skills, but is aware he must make adjustments.
“I’m quicker than DeVonte,” he said. “I’ve actually got to man up this year and get off blocks. If (the blocker) is smaller than me, I can run through him. But if he’s bigger than me, I can just use my quickness to get off the block.”
Williams suffered a broken right forearm during preseason practices last season and missed the first four games. He started once, in place of the concussed Holloman against Florida, and struggled at times. He said his arm feels stronger now.
“I was 100 percent last year (with the arm), but I was just kind of scared that it would break again,” Williams said. “But since I know it’s not going to break, I’m ready. I’ve got a plate in there. I’m not going to pay attention to it this year.”
Said new secondary coach Grady Brown: “Brison’s doing a good job. He may not be as big as DeVonte, but I don’t know too many safeties that are as big as DeVonte. So Brison has good size in his own right. He’s not a small guy by any stretch of the imagination. He’s just not as tall as DeVonte. He’s built just right for that position that he’s playing.”