Saturday night South Carolina’s star defensive end was shut out once again from being a major factor in the Gamecock’s 41-30 loss to Georgia. It was the second game in a row where Clowney’s performance was held to a minimum, following his more than lackluster performance against North Carolina the week before. Clowney’s stamina and his performance have been called into question of whether or not he can live up the expectations that are set out in front of him.
A Heisman Trophy contender and a projected first round overall draft pick, Clowney has been known to be a dominant force on the field, making big plays and knocking off the helmets of other players . However over the past two weeks, Clowney has seemed to have gained more criticism than praise for his lack of big plays made and effort shown. Critics are saying that Clowney has yet to show that he is a legitimate Heisman contender through his performance this season, despite what his statistics were last year.
However, there are still analysts holding out for Clowney, saying that while he may not be make big plays like “the big hit” he is having an impact on the way other teams are playing against him. According to ESPN’s Kevin Weidel, Georgia’s offense ran the ball away from Clowney 27 times out of the 39 attempted rushes. Clowney is still having an effect on the plays being called, even if he is not directly involved in them as teams now to have to plan around him to get the yards they are looking for.
While it is still too early to decide whether or not Clowney will live up to the hype surrounding him, it is clear that he is still making an impact on the field. He now has to find a way to adapt to the attention and start making big plays by working with his coaches to come up with a new game plan to maximize his role in the game, rather than diminish it.