Two surprises emerged from Columbia on Saturday night, and neither involved how Kentucky almost came back to beat South Carolina.
The first was when the Gamecocks announced Jadeveon Clowney would not dress out for the game because of bruised ribs. That was a surprise because, even though he missed Thursday's practice, the team said he was still likely to play.
The second came in the postgame press conference when South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was frank about his All-American defensive end's decision to not play.
"I will just say he told me he couldn’t play," Spurrier said matter of factly. "He said his ribs hurt, he couldn’t run."
"He may not be able to play next week," Spurrier continued. "We’re not going to worry about it, I can assure you of that.”
Then this final dagger:
"If he wants to play, if he doesn’t want to play, he doesn’t have to play," Spurrier said.
And this from defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward:
"I was totally surprised," Ward said. "Earlier in the day he went through walkthrough and he said he was hurting, but I thought he was going to play."
It doesn't take a football genius to read between the lines. Spurrier and Ward do not appear to be happy that Clowney sat out the game.
After coming into the season with more hype than any player in the nation, Clowney has been a disappointment, at least numbers wise. He only has a handful of tackles, and he only has two sacks and one forced fumble. Those are hardly the numbers of an All-American, much less a Heisman Trophy hopeful.
To be fair, Clowney has nursed a nagging foot injury, and teams often double team him and run away from him.
But the vibe of Spurrier's comments cast a pall on the Gamecocks' win. Some have said that Clowney doesn't want to play because he might suffer an injury that jeopardizes his NFL draft status next spring.
South Carolina embarks on a three-game SEC road trip next Saturday at Arkansas. They could probably use a player of Clowney's ability.
"We will see if he'll be ready to play next week," Ward said.
Gamecock Nation is waiting. Stay tuned.