COLUMBIA — ESPN spent nine months building South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney into some kind of cartoon-action superhero.
No. 6 South Carolina (1-0) at No. 5 Georgia (0-1)
When: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.
Radio: Radio: WWIK-FM 98.9
Line: Georgia by 5.
Clowney’s now infamous helmet-popping hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith during last season’s Outback Bowl won an ESPY over the summer for Play of the Year and was featured on ESPN nearly every day from New Year’s to last Thursday night’s kickoff against North Carolina.
ESPN also featured Clowney in a four-minute segment entitled “The Freak,” where quarterbacks from Florida, Georgia and Clemson were having nightmares about getting sacked by the Rock Hill native.
It only took one lackluster performance, eight months of game planning by the Tar Heels coaching staff, and an unusually hot August night, for the same network to toss Clowney aside and brand him as yet another overrated athlete.
Clowney was almost a non-factor against the Tar Heels, finishing with three tackles, three quarterback hurries and no sacks. South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier was less than impressed with Clowney’s performance against the Tar Heels and said so following the game.
After watching the film over the weekend, Spurrier had some advice for his All-American defensive end — play better this Saturday against Georgia.
“We all watched what happened out there, and obviously Jadeveon was not up to par,” Spurrier said Sunday during his weekly teleconference. “I’m not going to give him any excuses. You have to give that North Carolina tackle pretty good credit because he did a good job blocking, and their quarterback was pretty nifty moving around in the pockets.”
Spurrier hopes that Clowney learned a valuable lesson from the North Carolina game — everyone is watching.
“I think Jadeveon learned that the camera is on him every play,” Spurrier said. “He needs to know that that camera is on him every play this year and hopefully he learns from that. He needs to play like he’s capable of playing. We know he can rush the passer a little bit better than he did the other night.
“Hopefully, that’ll happen against Georgia and he’ll chase down some ball carriers and he’ll play more like he’s capable of playing against Georgia.”
Spurrier has met with Clowney since the North Carolina game, but wouldn’t comment on what was said during the conversation.
“Whatever I told Jadeveon will remain between us,” Spurrier said. “I think he’ll play a lot better this week against Georgia.”
Spurrier said he watched Clemson’s 38-35 win over Georgia Saturday night and was impressed by both offenses.
Stopping Georgia running back Todd Gurley, who rushed for 154 yards against the Tigers, won’t be easy, Spurrier said.
“He’s one of the best in the country,” Spurrier said.
Having two extra days to prepare for the Bulldogs will help with some of the minor injuries, Spurrier said.
“It two more days for the players to get treatment and heal up a little bit,” he said.
Strong safety Kadetrix Marcus is not expected to play for at least a couple of weeks after dislocating his shoulder against North Carolina.
“Hopefully, we’ll get him back soon,” Spurrier said.
Center Cody Waldrop sprained his ankle and his wearing a walking boot. Spurrier said he hopes that Waldrop will be ready to play Saturday against Georgia
Wide receiver Bruce Ellington is close to being “100 percent” and linebacker Cedrick Cooper practiced on Saturday and could play against the Bulldogs. Ellington played against North Carolina, but did not start.
Tight end Rory “Busta” Anderson (hamstring) and defensive tackle J.T. Surratt (foot) will be limited in practice this week, but could play.