For all the the talk about stopping Jadeveon Clowney (and there's a lot of it) this weekend, Georgia's offensive line can't afford to double-team him.
I know, it sounds crazy, but double-teaming Clowney could prove obsolete for the Dawgs. Clearly, when Clowney is on, he's the nation's best pass-rusher. Even though he wasn't 100 percent in South Carolina's opener he still delivered a good amount pressure to North Carolina's backfield.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Clowney had three total pressures (hurries and knockdowns) against UNC. Here are some other interesting nuggets from ESPN Stats & Information about Clowney's first outing of the season:
UNC quarterback Renner completed 52 percent of his passes with Clowney on the field and 75 percent of his passes when he was on the sideline. The majority of Renner’s 14 completions with Clowney on the field were quick throws, with 12 coming within 6 yards of the line of scrimmage, including seven at or behind the line.
Clowney wasn't at his best, but he was still a factor ... and so were his cohorts.
There's more to South Carolina's line than just No. 7. For starters, there's No. 90, No. 97 and No. 99 to keep tabs on. Also, No. 92 and 94 aren't too shabby, either.
While most of the focus from South Carolina's opener revolved around Clowney's conditioning, his defensive line mates were active and disruptive when he couldn't be. Defensive end Chaz Sutton, who is constantly overlooked because of Clowney, led the team with two tackles for loss and totaled four tackles against the Heels. Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, who should push to be one of the best interior defensive linemen in the SEC this fall, finished with three tackles and one sack. Fellow linemen Gerald Dixon Jr. and Kelsey Griffin combined for another sack and seven more tackles.
The Gamecocks have the ability to generate a lot of pressure up front from all angles, and you know this line has to be drooling at the chance to face a Georgia offensive line that struggled mightily against Clemson. The Bulldogs gave up four sacks to the Tigers and have to prepare for an even more talented front this weekend between the hedges.
Stopping Clowney is the main objective for this line, but the problem now becomes stopping his buddies as well. Quarles and Sutton probably pose the biggest threat to Georgia's line. Last year, the two combined for 15 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks on the season. Quarles registered four tackles against the Dawgs last year, while Sutton had one of the Gamecocks' two sacks (the other being by Clowney).
Go back and watch the tape of these guys from last week. South Carolina's line looked unstoppable with or without Clowney. Georgia's line returned talent and experience to start the year, but looked ill-prepared for the Tigers. That can't be the case Saturday.
Georgia's offensive line certainly can take major steps in Week 2, but having to face an opponent this good would be a tall task for anyone.
Clowney will be a major factor Saturday because he's always a factor, especially against the Dawgs. In two career games against Georgia, Clowney has six tackles for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble. He really does come to play against Georgia, but so will those around him. For the Dawgs to keep the backfield safe, the offensive line has to account for everyone ... not just Clowney.