South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney made more noise by not playing last week against Kentucky than he did in his return to the field Saturday.
The star junior sat out the UK game due to a controversial rib injury, and returned in the Gamecocks' blowout win over Arkansas Saturday. Clowney's statistical contribution: One solo tackle.
The player expected to draw high first-round interest if he chooses to skip his final year of college and make himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft now has just two sacks halfway through what may be his last season with the Gamecocks. It hasn't exactly been a storybook season for Clowney, who has been hampered by everything from bone spurs in his foot, to pre-game illnesses, to offensive game plans designing plays away from his side. His lack of big-time production has led to a good deal of high-profile criticism.
Next week, the challenge will be Clowney's toughest of the season, as he renews a much-anticipated battle with Tennessee left tackle Antonio Richardson. A top NFL draft prospect himself, Richardson handled Clowney nicely last year until the final minutes, when Clowney forced a key fumble on a sack in a Gamecocks win. Richardson, in turn, has said he's used that play as offseason motivation.
It certainly doesn't set up to be the huge game Clowney can use as a springboard for his season.
Indeed, Clowney could be a springboard for Richardson.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.