Jadeveon Clowneys knee was hurting bad enough this week that South Carolinas 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 Clowneys health for Saturdays game against Clemson remains in doubt. His status is not in doubt, though, defensive line coach Brad Lawing said after Tuesdays practice.
Oh yeah, hell play, Lawing said. He wasnt 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 nations 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 dont, we have to have somebody else step up and play. Thats 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 cant go, we expect Chaz (Sutton) to step up and make plays like Jadeveon.
Sutton has five sacks this season.
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 hed finish out. But if he cant 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.
Its a pretty good concern if hes not able to practice, Spurrier said. Well 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.
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 Woffords triple-option offense, expects to spend most of his time at safety against the Tigers, he said Tuesday.
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.
Hes coming around, not much swelling in his knee, Spurrier said.
Despite having a three-game winning streak in this rivalry, South Carolina is a four-point underdog, a fact that doesnt surprise Spurrier.
No, not the way theyve played and weve played, he said. Its usually based on how teams have performed and played. Clemson, I tell ya, theyre close to being in the national championship hunt. If they could have held on down there at Florida State that game, wed 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. Thats how close theyve been to having one of those super, super years. One game away.