By all accounts, South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney got the better of Tennessee left tackle Antonio Richardson Saturday in a matchup of at least one, and potentially two, future first-round NFL draft picks.
But their own accounts were equally candid.
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David Climer of tennessean.com pulled together some interesting comments from both players in the wake of their head-to-head battle Saturday that will likely be the centerpiece of film evaluation for both for NFL personnel officials. Clowney made 2.5 tackles for loss among five tackles, added two quarterback hurries, and proved too quick for Richardson to block on a consistent basis.
"He made his plays," Richardson said. "I told him I was going to keep playing."
Said Clowney: "I told him he needed to get help from the guard."
Indeed, he did. But double-team help from a guard rarely, if ever, came. In fact, even Richardson himself wasn't always assigned to block the star junior. At times, Tennessee tried to single block Clowney with a tight end or a pulling guard while Richardson blocked down on standout defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles. Richardson especially had trouble handling Clowney when he penetrated to the inside, rather than around the corner.
"He was shooting inside," Richardson said. "He's very athletic. When he does that, it doesn't matter how good you are."
Late in the game, Clowney played a series against Tennessee right tackle Ja'Wuan James, himself an NFL prospect at 6-foot-6, 318 pounds.
"I just told them, 'If you're going to block me one-on-one, you're going to pay for it,'" Clowney said.