ATHENS, Ga. — For the record, Aaron Murray says he’s never woken up in a cold sweat from a nightmare of South Carolina’s fearsome Jadeveon Clowney bearing down on him.
That was the narrative behind an ESPN feature that played off the South Carolina star defensive end saying at Southeastern Conference Media Days that the Georgia senior was one of several quarterbacks who were “scared” of him.
“Someone sent that to me, of course,” Murray said. “Probably a South Carolina fan tweeted me the video.”
The actor who wore the quarterback’s No. 11 jersey looked at least 10 years older than Murray.
“The only thing they did was try to simulate my hair,” Murray said. “Other than that, it wasn’t even close to looking like me.”
Clowney, the unanimous All-American as a sophomore, finished without a sack or tackle for loss in the opener against North Carolina. He had three tackles and often looked gassed.
“Jadeveon, obviously he was pooped,” said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.
Georgia coaches said Clowney got tired because he played hard.
“I think he was playing so hard early in that game that he was trying to win the Heisman in the first 25 snaps,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “He got a little bit tired and it was extremely hot that night.”
Clowney and his defensive mates have given Georgia’s offensive line all kinds of fits in his two games against the Bulldogs; both Gamecocks wins.
“I’m just going to treat it like I do every other game,” said Georgia left tackle Kenarious Gates. The North Carolina game showed that Clowney may be more than a handful most times, but he’s also human.”
He may not be stopped but it is possible to minimize the damage.
Just ask three senior offensive tackles who may have had the best success in containing Clowney: Michigan’s Taylor Lewan, Tennessee’s Antonio “Tiny” Richardson and North Carolina’s Hurst. Lewan is on several first-team preseason All-American lists and Hurst and Richardson were named second-team All-Americans.
Clowney combined for one sack against the three of them in games played since Georgia last saw the Gamecocks last October.
HOW TO STOP CLOWNEY
Here are seven tips on how to slow down South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney.
1. Don’t get out-finessed. North Carolina’s Hurst picked his poison. His mindset was that if Clowney was going to get by him, he wanted him to make him earn it by using his power.
“I think a big thing is I just didn’t want to just let him beat me clean on some sort of a swim move or a finesse move,” said the 6-foot-7, 305-pound Hurst. “You really want to make him beat you with power and not to say he doesn’t have that power, but it definitely takes a lot longer to beat someone with a power move than it does a finesse move. I really keyed on that. He likes finesse and speed and quick moves like that. I really wanted to eliminate those and force him to use the bull rush.”
2. Hesitation will get you beat. Blink and Clowney can get past you.
“His first step off the ball is crazy,” said Richardson, a 6-6, 327-pound native of Nashville, Tenn. “He’s freakishly athletic and he can make you get a little off balance.”
Just like a guy Georgia fans remember fondly.
“Jarvis Jones is pretty fast, too, but he was smaller,” Richardson said. “So you expect that. For a guy of that size to be able to do that, that’s crazy.”
3. Go hard every snap; bring your lunch pail. “It’s just never taking a play off,” said the 6-8, 315-pound Lewan from Cave Creek, Ariz. “Working every single moment. Watching film. Treating it like it’s your job because that’s what you’re here to do. You’re here to be a student-athlete, get a degree and do everything you possibly can to win a championship at the school you’re at. That’s how everybody needs to think it. Whether you’re playing Central Michigan like we did last week or playing Jadeveon Clowney.”
4. Know when to hold ’em. Trench warfare means doing what you can to win a battle. Clowney said in July that Richardson does a good job of holding and getting away with it.
“Some of the best offensive linemen can hold and get away with it,” Richardson said. “[Pro Football Hall of Famers] Jonathan Ogden, Anthony Munoz, all those guys can hold and get away with it.”
Asked how to get away with it: “You get your hands inside.”
5. Forget that hit. Clowney trucking Michigan tailback Vincent Smith may have been played more than Miley Cyrus’ train wreck at the VMAs, but he finished that game with four tackles, two tackles for loss and no sacks.
“If you watch that one-on-one matchup with Lewan and him, their left tackle really did a great job,” said Hurst, from Plainfield, Ind. “Great technique and really did a good job one-on-one.”
6. Set the tone. Establish your presence early. Let Clowney know you’re not conceding anything.
“You’ve got to come out on fire off the top,” Richardson said. “Let him know that you’re there and you’re there to stay. For me, what I had to do the whole time letting him know, ‘Hey, I’m not going anywhere, I’m going to bring the same intensity the whole game.’”
7. Study hard. Gates, and the rest of Georgia’s offensive tackles for that matter, have had the entire
offseason to prepare for Clowney. Gates said he’s brushed up on how teams have handled him.
“There’s a lot of preparation to it,” Hurst said. “Obviously, we knew who we were going to be playing since last season ended. It was a big personal challenge for me. So I took a lot of pride in preparing. Coaches had a good game plan to help us out. Get some running back chips, get some help whenever we could.”
Added Lewan: “As far as neutralizing him, it’s just watching film, repeatedly watching film. Knowing his moves. Where he sets up, what’s he going to do when he sets up. Just taking an NFL approach to every single game you play against him.”
– Marc Weiszer, Morris News Service
● S.C. State at Clemson, 12:30 p.m. (Fox Sports South)
● South Carolina at Georgia, 4:30 (ESPN)
● St. Francis (Pa.) at Georgia Southern, 6 (No TV)