Kelcy Quarles questionable for the weekend
Over the course of the first six games of the season, junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has faced many a double- or even triple-team.
However, on Saturday, Tennessee decided to leave Clowney with single-coverage against Volunteer left tackle Antonio Richardson, a preseason SEC first-team selection, to begin the game.
The result? Clowney had two tackles for loss in the first two defensive series of the game. While he didn’t record a sack on the day, Clowney did rack up five tackles, two-and-a-half of those for loss and also recorded two quarterback hurries.
“I just told them, ‘If you’re going to block me one-on-one, you’re going to pay for it,” Clowney said. “I kept beating [Richardson] inside. I was watching him all week long and I knew he gives up the inside.”
According to Clowney, Tennessee made adjustments to its game plan after halftime, sending the guard over to help out Richardson.
The Gamecock defense was a one-handed catch away from leading the team to a narrow victory over the Volunteers. However, because Tennessee wide receiver Marquez North came down with the catch, the Vols were able to run the clock down and kick the game-winning field goal.
Clowney, who said that Volunteer quarterback Justin Worley closed his eyes when he threw the pass to North, and other players were obviously disappointed with the play, but there was nothing that they could do about it.
“Defensively, we played a pretty good game,” freshman linebacker T.J. Holloman said. “We had some mistakes, but overall we did a good job. That was just an incredible catch. Ahmad (Christian) played great defense (on the play).”
South Carolina outgained Tennessee in total yards, 384 to 325 and held the Volunteers to five of 17 on third-down conversions.
However, the Gamecocks didn’t fare any better on third down themselves, converting just four of 14 attempts. In addition, the defense allowed Tennessee to score on all five of its redzone chances.
South Carolina also earned nine penalties for a total of 84 yards.
The atmosphere after Saturday’s game was a 180-degree turnaround from the Gamecock’s 52-7 shellacking of Arkansas two weeks ago.
According to Spurrier, the team may have basked in that big victory for a little too long.
“Maybe we had too much press,” Spurrier said. “We thought we were too good, maybe.”
Quarterback Connor Shaw left the game early with a strained knee, but he wasn’t the only one to get injured against the Vols.
Junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles suffered a sprained knee on the North one-handed catch and is questionable for this week’s game at Missouri.
While Shaw’s status is uncertain going into the game against the Tigers, that doesn’t mean that the defense will feel any more pressure to perform.
Clowney and company have faith in the abilities of junior Dylan Thompson.
“I believe in Dylan,” Clowney said. “I feel like he could be a first-string quarterback on some other teams, so when he came in (against Tennessee), I wasn’t really worried.”
While the team is confident in Thompson, the consistency and lack of turnovers from Shaw will be missed.
Shaw has one interception in 145 pass attempts while Thompson has two in just 51 attempts.