Lawing: Clowney will play vs. Clemson

Shaw did not practice Monday or Tuesday

jkendall@thestate.comNovember 20, 2012 

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) sat out the game against Wofford Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com

Jadeveon Clowney’s knee was hurting bad enough this week that South Carolina’s star defensive end underwent an MRI on Monday to determine if there was any serious damage.

None was found, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said, but Clowney’s health for Saturday’s game against Clemson remains in doubt. His status is not in doubt, though, defensive line coach Brad Lawing said after Tuesday’s practice.

“Oh yeah, he’ll play,” Lawing said. “He wasn’t full speed today, but he practiced. If we had played today, he would have played, just have to get him full speed by Saturday.”

Clowney has a bruise behind his kneecap to go along with the foot injury that has kept him out of practice for the last month. He did not play last week against Wofford. Clowney, a finalist for most of the nation’s defensive player of the year awards, is third in the SEC in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (17). He did not practice Monday but returned in a limited fashion Tuesday evening.

“If he plays, I expect him to be Jadeveon Clowney,” Ward said. “You are talking about one of the top players in the country. We definitely would rather have him out there, but if we don’t, we have to have somebody else step up and play. That’s the game of football. If we say we are in the SEC and playing big-time football, we have to have players ready to step up and play. If he can’t go, we expect Chaz (Sutton) to step up and make plays like Jadeveon.”

Sutton has five sacks this season.

Limping quarterback

Clowney is not the only high-profile Gamecock hobbling this week. Quarterback Connor Shaw (foot) did not practice Monday or Tuesday.

“His foot bothered him during the (Wofford) game,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “If he had told us, we probably would have put Dylan in. He kept saying he was alright and he’d finish out. But if he can’t play, Dylan Thompson will be ready to go.”

Shaw has completed 136-of-202 passes for 1,732 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. Thompson has completed 36-of-76 passes for five touchdowns and one interception.

“It’s a pretty good concern if he’s not able to practice,” Spurrier said. “We’ll have to wait and see where he is Wednesday or Thursday. Whether or not we start him or not will probably depend on his health.”

Moving around

Safety D.J. Swearinger will play cornerback, nickel back and safety against Clemson, Ward said. Swearinger played safety in the Gamecocks’ first eight games but was moved to cornerback and nickel back against Arkansas. He responded with a career-high 13 tackles and a 69-yard interception return for a touchdown.

“He will be moving around,” Ward said. “The personnel they have will dictate where he is playing.”

Swearinger, who went back to safety last week against Wofford’s triple-option offense, expects to spend most of his time at safety against the Tigers, he said Tuesday.

Lattimore update

Running back Marcus Lattimore is “doing fine” and “on the road to recovery,” Spurrier said. Lattimore, who had surgery earlier this month to repair damage to several ligaments in his knee.

“He’s coming around, not much swelling in his knee,” Spurrier said.

Underdogs

Despite having a three-game winning streak in this rivalry, South Carolina is a four-point underdog, a fact that doesn’t surprise Spurrier.

“No, not the way they’ve played and we’ve played,” he said. “It’s usually based on how teams have performed and played. Clemson, I tell ya, they’re close to being in the national championship hunt. If they could have held on down there at Florida State that game, we’d be talking about these guys playing for the national championship if they won their conference championship and beat us. Tajh Boyd would be up for the Heisman Trophy. That’s how close they’ve been to having one of those super, super years. One game away.”

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