COLUMBIA — Jadeveon Clowney didn’t get a chance Saturday night to improve his disappointing stats from September. Against Kentucky, the South Carolina star defensive end never left the sideline.
Clowney did not play Saturday because of bruised ribs. At game’s end, it was unknown how the injury might affect him moving forward.
On Thursday, USC defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said Clowney missed practice with bruised ribs but was expected to play. USC coach Steve Spurrier said he expected Clowney to play, but the junior told him before the game he could not play.
Ward said he was “totally surprised” Clowney couldn’t play, but “I don’t think it had any effect” on the defense.
It was the first time Clowney has missed a game since last season’s close call against Wofford, when the star pass rusher sat out with a foot injury.
The No. 13 Gamecocks beat Kentucky, 35-28, winning their third straight game to improve to 4-1, 2-1 SEC East. Still, with only two sacks on the season, playing the SEC East’s worst team figured to be a chance for Clowney to pad his stats.
Instead, the only thing Clowney padded was his lengthy injury report from the season. Clowney has now played through dehydration, stomach flu and bone spurs in his right foot — several body shots for the 2014 NFL draft’s top prospect. On Saturday, he couldn’t play through his bruised ribs.
Full roll call
The only other surprise absence Saturday night was center Cody Waldrop, who missed the game against Kentucky with a sprained ankle.
Earlier in the week, USC coach Steve Spurrier said Waldrop could play with the ankle injury, which was sustained last week at Central Florida. Instead, backup Clayton Stadnik got another start. Stadnik has played well in Waldrop’s relief this fall. With a capable backup and softer opponent, Spurrier likely thought it wise to give his starting center some rest.
Sophomore receiver Shaq Roland served the second of his three-game suspension against the Wildcats. Roland’s suspension remains unspecified, simply a violation of athletic department policy.
As expected, senior quarterback Connor Shaw started after spraining his right shoulder at UCF. Shaw looked like his usual self, completing 8 of 11 passes for 158 yards and a 62-yard touchdown pass — in the first quarter alone. He finished 17 of 20 for 262 yards.
Breast cancer awareness
In recognition of breast cancer awareness month, most of the Gamecocks players wore pink with their uniforms. Senior quarterback Connor Shaw wrapped his ankles in pink tape, looking like he was wearing pink knee-high socks. Also, USC’s equipment managers wore pink polo shirts during the game.
Moment of silence
Before kickoff, there was a moment of silence on the field for former Gamecocks football coach and athletics director Paul Dietzel.
Dietzel, 89, died Sept. 24 at his home in Baton Rouge, La. Dietzel was best known for guiding LSU to the 1958 national championship, but he later was USC’s coach and athletics director from 1966-74. He led the Gamecocks to their only conference title in football, the 1969 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.