Clowney falls out of Heisman picture, Gamecocks’ lineup

A season that began with Heisman hype has become a game of “Where’s Waldo?” Or, in this case, where’s Jadaveon Clowney?

The South Carolina junior defensive end Jadaveon Clowney has had a rather quiet year. He has a modest 12 tackles with two sacks and one forced fumble through four games.

Some of it is because of the extra attention he has gotten from opponents with double- and triple-teams. Some of it is because of injuries Clowney has had to deal with.

He had stomach issues a couple of games and has had to contend with bone spurs throughout the fall. But his season dipped even lower Saturday when he didn’t play against Kentucky because of sore ribs.

“I don’t want to get into all of that,” Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said when asked about Clowney’s status. “I will just say he told me he couldn’t play. That his ribs hurt and couldn’t run. (He) said, ‘I can’t play.’ I said, ‘That’s fine. You don’t have to play.’ And we’ll move on.

“He may not be able to play next week (at Arkansas), I don’t know. We’re not going to worry about it, I can assure you that. If he wants to play, we’ll welcome him to come play for the team if he wants to. If he doesn’t want to play, he doesn’t have to play, simple as that.”

Spurrier and his staff were all thinking Clowney, who had missed practice Thursday, was going to be available until right before the game against the Wildcats, which the Gamecocks held on to win 35-28.

“Right before the game,” defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said when asked when he learned Clowney would not be available. “Coach Spurrier talked to him and he told him that he was having trouble running because of his ribs.

“We found out right before the game he wasn’t going to play.”

The Gamecocks are starting a three-game stretch on the road, starting with a trip to Arkansas.

Will Clowney play?

“We’ll see,” Ward said. “We’ll see.”

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