All eyes are on South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney this season, and after two games, it appears the junior from Rock Hill, S.C., is frustrated by all the attention.
The 6'6", 274-pounder is a sure-fire top pick in next year's NFL draft, a contender to become the first true defensive Heisman Trophy winner and the one player every offensive coordinator facing the Gamecocks will try to negate in his weekly game plan.
Georgia's Mike Bobo sure did.
The Bulldogs made a concerted effort to run away from Clowney on Saturday afternoon, which is a big reason why running back Todd Gurley had so much success and the Bulldogs were able to break a three-game losing streak to the Gamecocks with a 41-30 win between the hedges.
Georgia's game plan clearly frustrated Clowney, and he's pushing for the coaches to get a little more creative with where he lines up, according to postgame quotes released by the university.
That's up to the coaches. They want to move me around, that's up to them. But I am just going to keep playing my assignment. I set the edge most of the night. I set the edge. The ball went away from me on the backside, chasing, so you know, that's just how the game went tonight.
It was the second time in two weeks the junior has been frustrated.
In South Carolina's opening night win over North Carolina in front of a national audience, Clowney looked out of shape at times—especially when the no-huddle offense of the Tar Heels was able to put together long, sustained drives.
Is that a fair criticism?
Of course not. Clowney has six tackles and one sack on the season, which was his exact stat line through two games last year. He said that he had a stomach virus in the opener, which is a reasonable excuse for what appeared to be a lack of conditioning. It's also an excuse that's unnecessary.
It's a battle in those trenches, and it's rare that cameras are focused so intently on a defensive end. If he wasn't "Jadeveon Clowney, college football superstar," his conditioning would be a non-issue.
But Clowney better get used to this kind of attention, because it comes with the territory.
He isn't just a star defensive player on a Top-15 team, he's a superstar who has reached superhero status in some circles. That means more cameras on him 24/7/365 and more focus on him from opposing coaches.
Football is a game of adjustments.
Just as Clowney is urging his coaches to make adjustments to how he lines up, he's going to have to adjust mentally to the new world in which he lives. He's always been a focal point, but now he's the focal point for everybody paying attention to every game South Carolina plays.
That's mentally straining, physically straining and will force the Gamecocks' coaching staff to adjust how it operates on defense.
Unfortunately for South Carolina, the Georgia game—which could have served as the de facto SEC East championship game—came at the wrong time on the schedule. Now down a game and a tiebreaker in the division, the Gamecocks' margin for error for the division title race is gone.
But desperation could force the issue, which means Clowney won't be as frustrated moving forward as he's been during the first two weeks.
That's a scary thought for the rest of the SEC East.