It appears as though South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will test his rib cage muscle strain with game action on Saturday when the Gamecocks travel to play Arkansas, and perhaps answer critics of his toughness and desire at the same time. Clowney has practiced the last two days and defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward indicated he expected the junior to be ready against the Razorbacks, just a week after pulling himself from the lineup shortly before kickoff against Kentucky.
"If he's healthy, he's going to start. He's practiced two days in a row, and I think he's getting better every day," Ward said, according to gogamecocks.com. "... He had been in treatment already, twice (Thursday), and that was the early part of the morning. He's doing everything in his power to be ready to play."
Clowney's mental makeup has been called into question in the last week, beginning with coach Steve Spurrier, and ending with NFL insiders such as Peter King. And while Clowney's draft stock isn't in any immediate danger, according to NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks, he is setting himself up for some hard questions when interviewed by NFL clubs.
Clowney has just two sacks and 12 tackles on the season, scant production compared to the 13.5 sacks he tallied as a sophomore. In various games, Clowney's effort, conditioning and health have all been cited as a cause for his inability to match or even approach overwhelmingly high preseason expectations. As well, opposing offensive game plans have targeted Clowney for double-teaming and play calls to his opposite side.
This week, Arkansas' power-rushing attack figures to provide a somewhat different test for Clowney, challenging his run-stopping ability rather than his proven skill as a pass rusher.