Aaron Murray not scared of Clowney

HOOVER, Ala. -- Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray insists he isn't afraid of opposing defensive linemen -- particularly South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.

Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said, however, that being scared of Clowney would be an understandable reaction.

"I would think some guys are scared of him," Richt said Thursday morning at SEC media days. "I'd be scared of him if I was in the game and this guy was coming after me."

Clowney -- the Gamecocks' All-America defensive end, who is widely viewed as one of the top 2014 NFL draft prospects -- made waves earlier this week by telling reporters that he witnessed fear on the faces of opposing quarterbacks like Georgia's Murray and Clemson's Tajh Boyd.

Murray knew the questions were coming when he met with reporters on Thursday, chuckling and sighing, "Oh, here we go," when a Georgia beat writer brought up Clowney early in a group interview.

"I think the word 'fear' was misused for respect," Murray said. "Definitely a lot of respect for him. I think he was definitely one of, if not the best player in the country -- unbelievable player."

Clowney had four tackles, two for a loss, and a sack as South Carolina dominated Georgia 35-7 last season. He also earned some negative attention after last season's loss to LSU when Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger said after the game that Clowney and teammates threatened him before pregame warm-ups.

"It wasn't so much him saying it," Mettenberger recalled Thursday. "Just like anybody, you've got the big guy who just looks scary, and then you've got the little pipsqueak who can't do anything himself who likes to talk because he's got the big guy next to him. But [they said], 'You're not going to finish the game.'

"I was definitely excited to see [LSU guard] Josh Dworaczyk play the game of his life against Clowney, and I was glad I got to finish the game because that guy can definitely knock you out of one."

As Mettenberger mentioned, LSU's offensive line largely kept Clowney in check -- holding him to six tackles, no sacks and half a tackle for a loss. But Mettenberger said quarterbacks have good reason to be afraid of the Gamecocks star.

"Have you seen that guy?" he said before adding, when asked of his initial response to Clowney's pregame threats, "I almost crapped my pants."

While Murray refused to admit feeling fear, he can recognize the need to pay attention to Clowney's location when he's on the other side of the line.

"You definitely have to be aware of him, and you definitely have to have a game plan for him -- how you're going to block him and if you're going to have a running back chip him, if you're going to have a tight end chip him," Murray said. "Because it is tough. It's tough for any offensive lineman to try to block him one-on-one."