Jadeveon Clowney Watch: Week 1 – Fatigue is Heisman Hopes Leaving the Body
This summer, I wrote a piece entitled, “Jadeveon Clowney will Disappoint in 2013.” Some people liked it, some people
were South Carolina Fans hated it. The premise was not all that ground-breaking, but I’d summarize it thusly:
Jadeveon Clowney may be the best player in the country, but he will disappoint relative to expectations in 2013.
My defense for such a claim centered on the following notion: As good as Clowney has been, he doesn’t play a position that consistently allows for “flashy” statistics and plays and therefore the general public will view this season as a disappointment. In other words, expectations are so ridiculously high for a player who didn’t even lead the SEC in sacks last year, that there is no way he meets them. And that’s not an insult to him. Defensive players don’t win Heisman Trophies very often. It’s too hard to produce statistics that register on the national scale with casual fans and generate media momentum. If Alabama is 12-0 and A.J. McCarron has only thrown three interceptions, most people will assume that he is a fantastic player. If South Carolina is 10-2 (and I’m just making this up) and Clowney has 11 sacks, most people will say, “Oh cool. Where does that rank nationally?”
Clowney’s first game against North Carolina was the epitome of this sentiment. Clowney played a good game, but it was not a statistically dominant game. The box score will tell you that Jadeveon Clowney registered three tackles, zero tackles for loss and zero sacks. To the casual fan who first heard about Clowney with “the hit”, this probably seemed like the first game in which Clowney had not registered a sack. That’s about on par with what the media has implied (which is not Clowney’s fault). In reality, however, this was Clowney’s 13th career game without a sack. And that’s not a terrible thing. Again, he plays his position better than anyone in the country.
Clowney played hard, disrupted plays and forced North Carolina to avoid him altogether, but the headlines today are about his fatigue. The questions today are not, “How did UNC scheme around him?” or “Can Georgia avoid him next week?” The questions are, “Was he sick?” and “What happened to him being in the best shape of his life?”
And that’s not fair to Jadeveon Clowney or to the teams he’s playing this year. I was genuinely impressed by North Carolina’s avoidance of “The Freak.” I hope Georgia was taking notes. I hope Mike Bobo and company run a fair share of screens, runs up the middle and push the pace. But Clowney didn’t have a bad game.
Jadeveon Clowney is going to have monstrous games this year. I can assure you of that. But if you’re burying him today for being tired, make sure you understand what your standard of life was yesterday. In my opinion, Clowney’s play last night was no more disappointing than his 2012 campaign was unprecedented. But the happy-middle doesn’t get page reads or television viewers. The extremes of the spectrum are what draw people in.
And that’s what I hate for Clowney. He can never have another good game. Every game from here on out will either be awful or great. There’s no middle ground.
That’s all I got/
Dude’s note: I should point out what I thought was obvious but is probably not: The title of this article is a mock of every other “Clowney Watch” piece out there. It’s out of control.