An ESPN GameDay crew recently spent a day working its way around Athens, seeking an answer to the question on the mind of every denizen of the Bulldog Nation.
“How do you stop Jadeveon Clowney?”
South Carolina’s All-American defensive end has had his way with the Bulldogs the last two seasons, but Georgia ended a three-game losing streak Saturday by defeating the Gamecocks 41-30.
In 2011 at Sanford Stadium, the 6-foot-6, 274-pound Clowney recorded two quarterback sacks, two tackles for lost yardage and a forced fumble as the Gamecocks won 45-42, and last year in Columbia he had four tackles, including a quarterback sack, in a 35-7 victory.
ESPN reporter Gene Wojciechowski was on the Clowney beat, polling Bulldogs fans at locations ranging from fraternity houses and churches to the Tate Student Center and the stadium.
“You name it, we’ve seen it,” Wojciechowski said. “We actually talked to (Mark) Richt and a couple of players and everybody’s trying to figure out a way. Advice has ranged from the really technical and thoughtful to the absolute ridiculous and fun. It’s been interesting to hear everybody’s take.”
The ESPN contingent’s last stop of the day was at Cedar Shoals High School, where Wojciechowski queried about a dozen Pop Warner Football League players from the Augusta area about Clowney on the freshly-cut-and-lined Waters-Wilkins Stadium field, also known by Cedar Shoals fans as The Jungle.
The youth football players, ranging in age from 6-11, were advised by Wojciechowski that there are “no wrong answers” as they cheerfully lined up to share their opinion.
Eight-year-old Jordan Bowers, from the Grovetown Grizzlies, offered a “guaranteed” solution.
“Misdirection,” he said confidently, although moments later he forgot the name of the player he was scheming against.
Greenbrier Wolfpack defensive end Chase Beall, 11, offered another salient suggestion.
“Just double-team him until he gets tired,” Beall recommended.
Michael Kennedy, 11, a defensive end on the Evans Knights, had perhaps the best advice of the day, although the player who suggested a chop block might have had the most effective - if illegal- answer.
“Make him stay on the bus,” Kennedy said. “But if you can’t do that, just hit him as hard as you can.”
After voicing their thoughts, the players gathered on the field in a semicircle and at the urging of Wojciechowski, began knocking down a life-size foam-core cutout of Clowney.
“He’s heavier in person,” Wojciechowski said.
After their brush with “GameDay” notoriety, several players expressed excitement about the possibility of being featured on Saturday’s broadcast.
“I can’t wait to see it,” Kennedy said. When asked if he felt the No. 11 Bulldogs could take down the No. 6 Gamecocks, he added, “If they put their minds to it, anything is possible.”
“Wow, that was awesome!” Beall said, punctuating his comment with a fervent “Go Dawgs!”
When asked if he’d gleaned the best way to derail the Clowney Express, Wojciechowski chuckled and said, “I don’t know how you stop him. How do you make Superman not show up to save Lois Lane? You figure that one out and you’ve got it.”