Stats & Info: Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney brings a prolific pass rush

April, 1, 2014
4/01/14
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Photo illustration by Trevor EbaughTeams actually had more success running at Jadeveon Clowney than running away from him.
South Carolina's pro day is Wednesday, which means that the top defensive prospect in this year’s NFL Draft will have a chance to show what he can do best.

Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney ranks third in South Carolina history with 24 career sacks and second with 47 tackles for loss. He holds the school record with nine forced fumbles.

Clowney played in 11 of South Carolina’s 13 games this past season, lining up mostly as right defensive end. When lining up as the right defensive end, opponents ran to his side on 28 percent of their rushing plays. However, teams were successful when running toward him because of the double teams often thrown Clowney's way in those situations, as noted in the chart on the right.

Although Clowney’s sack total decreased by 10, he had 14 hurries last season, second among SEC defenders and tied for 11th among defenders from automatic-qualifying conferences.

Biggest strength: Speed
The 266-pound Clowney ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Clowney’s time is the fastest at the NFL Combine by any player measured at least 260 pounds since 2006.

Clowney’s 4.53 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine was the fifth fastest of any defensive lineman since 2006 and 0.08 seconds faster than an average running back’s 40-time.

Among quarterbacks who have entered the league since 2006, Robert Griffin III was the only NFL starter in the 2013 season who ran a faster time in the 40-yard dash than Clowney at the NFL Combine. Colin Kaepernick matched Clowney's time.

Draft Outlook
Each of the past six SEC Defensive Player of the Year winners before Clowney (and co-winner, Michael Sam) has been selected in the top-11 in the NFL Draft.

South Carolina’s only player drafted No. 1 overall was George Rogers in 1981 by the New Orleans Saints. The school's most successful defensive alumnus is John Abraham, who has made five Pro Bowls in 14 seasons. His 133.5 sacks rank ninth all-time.

Abraham was selected 13th overall by the New York Jets in 2000.

Murray gets elusive win vs. South Carolina

September, 7, 2013
9/07/13
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Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesGeorgia QB Aaron Murray (right) defeated South Carolina for the first time in four tries Saturday.
After losing his first three games against South Carolina, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray finally got that elusive win against the Gamecocks on Saturday.

Murray completed 17 of 23 attempts for 309 yards and four touchdowns in Georgia's 41-30 win, just one week after failing to throw for a score in Georgia’s loss to Clemson.

One of the major differences for Murray on Saturday compared to his prior three meetings against the Gamecocks was his efficiency on third down. Murray went 6-for-7 on third down pass attempts Saturday, including two touchdowns.

He averaged nearly 20 yards per attempt on third downs Saturday, 11 yards more than his career average entering the game.

The win against 6th-ranked South Carolina was Murray's second against a top-10 team. Entering the day, he was 1-6 career in games against top-10 teams with eight touchdowns to nine interceptions in those games.

Murray now has 99 career passing touchdowns, leaving him 15 shy of the SEC career record held by Florida’s Danny Wuerffel.

While Murray led the Bulldogs’ passing attack, Todd Gurley led the way on the ground for Georgia.

Gurley carried the ball 30 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. It was his 10th game with at least 100 rush yards and a rushing touchdown since the start of last season, and his second of the 2013 campaign.

Much of Gurley's attack came outside the tackles: he had 10 rushes for 68 yards outside the tackles against South Carolina, two more yards than he had rushing inside the tackles -- and on 10 fewer carries.

It was markedly different than last week, when only one of Gurley’s 12 carries went outside the tackles.

On the other sideline, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney recorded his first sack of the season in the loss.

Clowney's sack, the 22nd of his career, jumped him up a spot over Melvin Ingram for fourth on the school's career list. He's seven sacks shy of tying the school record, set by Eric Norwood (2006-09).

The loss was just South Carolina’s second (13-2) to an SEC East team since 2010, with the other coming to Florida last season.

Murray vs Clowney: A closer look

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
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Tyler Smith/Getty ImagesAaron Murray had a rough go of it on Saturday.
One of the nation’s most explosive offenses will face one of the best defenses when Georgia hosts South Carolina this Saturday (4:30 ET on ESPN). The winner will have the inside track to winning the SEC East and a possible BCS bowl berth.

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray may be a Heisman contender but he has struggled in his career vs the Gamecocks. He is winless in three starts and his QBR of 44.8 against them is his worst vs any SEC East opponent.

Last season in Williams-Brice Stadium, Murray arguably had the worst game of his career, setting career lows in pass yards (109), completion percentage (36.0), and total QBR (8.4) in a 35-7 loss.

Murray also hopes to do something he’s rarely done in his career: beat a highly ranked team. He is just 1-8 in his career against top-15 teams after losing last week at Clemson.

However, Murray was successful stretching the field against the Tigers. He averaged 11.1 yards per attempt, including three passes that traveled more than 15 yards in the air.

South Carolina’s defense will need to prevent Murray from completing those long passes if they want to contain the Georgia offense.

Last week North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner attempted seven passes of that distance and all seven fell incomplete. Renner was held to just 4.5 yards per pass attempt, the second-worst mark in his career.

The threat of South Carolina’s star pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney likely had an impact on Renner’s performance.

Despite not recording a sack, Clowney led the Gamecocks with three pressures and made a difference with his mere presence (as shown in the chart to the right).

Clowney has a history with Murray too, with three career sacks of him, including a 25-yard sack-fumble in 2011 that resulted in a South Carolina touchdown.

Murray will also be without his top wideout after Malcolm Mitchell suffered a torn ACL against Clemson. Since 2011, Murray has 96.9 Total QBR when targeting Mitchell, the highest among wide receivers on this year’s roster in that span (min. 10 completions).

If Murray is held in check, Georgia will have to rely on its dynamic running game. The Bulldogs ran for 222 yards last week against Clemson, with much of the damage done inside the tackles by Todd Gurley.

Gurley totaled 142 of his 154 rushing yards between the tackles, including three carries of 20 yards or more. Over the last two seasons Gurley has 18 rushes of at least 20 yards. Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey is the only active running back with more.

As explosive as Gurley and the Georgia running game is, South Carolina’s defense is just as good at preventing long runs. Last season, the Gamecocks allowed six runs of 20 yards, the second-fewest in FBS, and held SEC opponents to the third-fewest yards per rush among conference teams.

That’s bad news for a Georgia team that is just 2-8 in the Murray era when rushing for 115 or fewer yards, including 0-2 against South Carolina.

Week 1: Top things to know about top 10

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
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As we celebrate the commencement of the 2013 college football season, here are the stats to know about the top 10 teams in action this week (No. 4 Stanford is off).

1. Alabama (vs. Virginia Tech, 5:30 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Senior AJ McCarron completed 65 percent of his passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield, with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions on those throws last season. He completed 39 percent of such passes, with six touchdowns, as a sophomore.

McCarron posted an above-average opponent-adjusted Total QBR in all 14 games last season (average is 50.0). He was one of three FBS quarterbacks to play in at least 10 games without having at least one below-average game. The other two were Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Louisiana Tech's Colby Cameron.

2. Ohio State (vs. Buffalo, noon ET, Saturday)
Junior Braxton Miller led all quarterbacks from BCS-AQ schools with 1,214 yards on designed running plays last season. He averaged 14 designed runs per game, an increase of more than seven per game from his freshman season.

Miller finished with 10 rushes that gained at least 30 yards, tied for fifth-most in FBS. Five of those 10 rushes went for touchdowns.

3. Oregon (vs. Nicholls State, 4 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Oregon averaged more points in the first half (30.5) than 67 FBS teams averaged per game last season. The Ducks' average halftime lead was 21.5 points, but they generally milked their lead, averaging nearly five more seconds of possession per play in the second half compared to the first.

5. Georgia (at No. 8 Clemson, 8 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Georgia had 24 offensive touchdowns that were 25 yards or longer last season, tied with Baylor for the most in FBS. The Bulldogs and Alabama are the only FBS teams that had at least 15 such passing touchdowns and five such rushing touchdowns.

6. South Carolina (vs. North Carolina, 6 p.m. ET, Thursday)
Jadeveon Clowney had 23.5 tackles for loss last season, tied for the second-most in FBS. Clowney finished the season with 28 total pressures (hurries and knockdowns), tied for the second-most by an SEC player.

7. Texas A&M (vs. Rice, 1 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Johnny Manziel had the highest opponent-adjusted Total QBR (91) in FBS last season. In nine years of historical Total QBR data, only Andrew Luck in 2010 (95), Russell Wilson in 2011 (94), Sam Bradford in 2008 (92), Pat White in 2006 (91) and Kellen Moore in 2010 (91) had a higher or equal single-season opponent-adjusted QBR.

8. Clemson (vs. No. 5 Georgia, 8 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Tajh Boyd completed an FBS-high 48 passes that gained 25 or more yards. Overall, 11 percent of his pass attempts gained at least 25 yards, the highest percentage in the nation (minimum 150 attempts).

9. Louisville (vs. Ohio, 3:30 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Teddy Bridgewater converted a first down on 51 percent of his third-down passes last season, second-best in FBS behind Manziel (52 percent).

10. Florida (vs. Toledo, 12:21 p.m. ET, Saturday)
Florida allowed just 13 plays of 25 yards or longer last season, seven fewer than any other FBS team. The Gators did not allow one rush of at least 25 yards until the fourth quarter of the Sugar Bowl.

Clowney will try to buck DL Heisman trend

July, 16, 2013
7/16/13
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Kim Klement/USA Today SportsIs there a Heisman in this man's future?

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is being talked about as a Heisman Trophy contender in 2013 after a sixth-place finish in last year's voting, but the history of defensive linemen in the Heisman voting has not been good.

In the last 25 seasons, 31 players have had multiple top 10 finishes in the Heisman vote. None of them have played defense.

In that time, only 29 non-skill position players have appeared in any form, with six getting an invite to New York and only two finishing in the top-3.

It seems all but certain that Clowney will be the first defensive player to finish in the top 10 of Heisman balloting in back-to-back years since Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman did so in 1986 and 1987.

Clowney will have to improve his already impressive numbers to differentiate himself from past defensive linemen who have fallen short.

Ndamukong Suh in 2009 was the last defensive lineman invited to New York, with momentum from a 4.5-sack performance in the Big 12 Championship Game carrying him. His numbers in 14 games were nearly identical to what Clowney did in 12 games last season (13 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss).

Great stats are no guarantee.

Western Michigan’s Jason Babin set the FBS record with 32.0 tackles for loss in 2003, and Arizona State’s Terrell Suggs set the sacks record with 24.0 in 2002, yet neither player ended up in the Heisman Top 10.

What each of the Heisman-top 10 defensive linemen had in common was a steady improvement as they got older and Clowney saw the same improvement in his two seasons.

Clowney made a big jump from 12 tackles for loss as a freshman to 23.5 as a sophomore, and from eight sacks to 13.

If he can add to his numbers with the same big jump this season, he would finish with 18.0 sacks and an FBS record 34.0 tackles for loss. Another six forced fumbles would give Clowney 14 for his career, which would tie the FBS record.

With a competitive team behind him and more highlight-reel plays in line with the Vincent Smith hit, Clowney could be headed to New York with a chance to win.

Big plays on first down helping Georgia

October, 6, 2012
10/06/12
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(No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks host the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs, Saturday at 7 ET on ESPN.)

One of the most marquee games on Saturday is the SEC East showdown between Georgia and South Carolina. And the spotlight won’t shine any brighter than it does on the explosive Georgia offense. The Bulldogs' 43 plays of 20+ yards (26 pass, 17 rush) are six more than any other FBS team and 15 more than any other SEC team.

Something that might exacerbate the issue for the home Gamecocks is that they have been vulnerable to big passing plays, having allowed 17 completions of at least 20 yards (tied for third most in the SEC). The Gamecocks have been much stingier against the run, allowing just two runs of 20+ yards, which is tied for the fewest in the SEC.

Georgia has also had a great deal of success on first down, averaging an FBS-best 9.6 yards per play -- including 14.0 yards per pass attempt. When the Bulldogs throw on first down, they have converted first downs 49.2 percent of the time, best in FBS.

Statistically, that should suit Georgia just fine since the key to moving the ball against South Carolina on first down is throwing the ball. The Gamecocks allow just 2.0 yards per rush on first down; however their defense allows 7.5 yards per pass attempt on first down. That ranks 11th in the 14-team SEC.

SOUTH CAROLINA’S BEST HOPE
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is the key for South Carolina up front. Clowney is second in the SEC in both tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (5.5). He had his breakout game last season against Georgia with two sacks and a forced fumble that Melvin Ingram returned for a touchdown.

If South Carolina can slow Georgia down and force it into converting on third down, then the Bulldogs could be at a disadvantage. That's because Georgia lost leading receiver Michael Bennett to a season-ending knee injury on Tuesday. QB Aaron Murray often looked to Bennett on third down this season, completing 19-of-32 throws on third down with eight of those completions going to Bennett.

The loss of Bennett hurts, but the return of WR/CB Malcolm Mitchell to offense on a near-full-time basis should help replace Bennett’s third-down production. Last season, Murray was 14-20 throwing to Mitchell on third downs, with all 14 completions going for first downs.

No. 1 recruit Clowney faces big decision

February, 11, 2011
2/11/11
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National Signing Day has come and gone and the nation’s top recruit remains unsigned. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is waiting until Valentine’s Day to unveil his plans for next season, and some of the nation’s top schools are left wondering what his future holds.

The addition of Clowney will improve the defensive line of any team in the country; Clowney recorded 29.5 sacks, 29 tackles for loss and 11 forced fumbles in his senior year of high school, and his strength and speed are unrivaled in this 2011 recruiting class.

Clowney is taking his time, making sure he chooses the right school. Since 1986, only 36.4 percent (eight of 22) of the nation’s No. 1 high school recruits have been drafted in the first round, so Clowney must decide which program will give him the best chance to grow his game.

In his interview with Rece Davis on ESPNU, Clowney narrowed his potential landing spots down to the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers. How do these schools compare in terms of production, playing time and draft history?

SACKS:
South Carolina recorded 41 sacks last season, fourth most in the nation. Under Steve Spurrier, South Carolina has averaged 30.5 sacks per season and allowed 3.98 yards per rush.

Alabama recorded a disappointing 27 sacks in 2010, tied for 56th in the nation. Despite blitzing on 33.2 percent of opponents’ passing plays in SEC play, no Alabama lineman recorded more than 4.5 sacks last season.

Clemson recorded 31 sacks in 2010, tied for 32nd in the nation. Tigers defensive end Da'Quan Bowers led the nation last season with 15.5 sacks.

PLAYING TIME:
South Carolina’s defensive line will have an opening as three-year starting defensive end Cliff Matthews is graduating.

Alabama is losing defensive lineman Marcell Dareus to the draft, but the Tide already signed two of the top defensive end recruits in the nation in Xzavier Dickson (No. 22 in ESPNU 150) and Jeoffrey Pagan (No. 53 in ESPNU 150).

Clemson is losing one of its two starting defensive ends as Da’Quan Bowers is heading to the draft. Andre Branch will likely be a senior starter in 2010, but the other defensive end spot is wide open.

DRAFT HISTORY:
South Carolina has never had a defensive end drafted in the first round and has had only one DE drafted in the first three rounds since 1967.

Alabama has not had a defensive end drafted in the first round since 1993.

Clemson has had three defensive ends drafted in the first round. Most recently, Gaines Adams was taken fourth overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2007 draft, and Bowers is the No. 1 pick in Todd McShay’s Mock Draft 3.0 and the No. 2 player on Mel Kiper’s Big Board.

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