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Wednesday October 17, 2012 Gators plan to be on high alert for Clowney

Updated: 6:14pm, October 17

Jadeveon Clowney

Photo: Jadeveon Clowney presents a huge challenge for opposing offensive lines (USC photo).

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- South Carolina sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney made a huge impression on UAB coach Garrick McGee earlier this season.

“I think he is probably the best, arguably the best player in college football,’’ McGee said.

Clowney dominated UAB’s offensive line in South Carolina’s 49-6 win Sept. 15 with seven tackles, 3 ½ tackles for loss and two sacks.

The Gators host the ninth-ranked Gamecocks on Saturday and they know Clowney must best dealt with or it could be a long day for quarterback Jeff Driskel.

“He can ruin your day,’’ Florida coach Will Muschamp said this week. “You’ve got to be able to account for him in the rush and in the run game. You’ve got to have your antenna up to know where he is.”

Clowney was already a household name for college football fans long before he made his debut last season for the Gamecocks. He was considered the top player in the country coming out of South Pointe High in Rock Hill, S.C. The Gamecocks were able to keep him home, perhaps Spurrier’s biggest recruiting win in his eight years in Columbia.

"He is just really athletic,'' Gators offensive lineman Jon Halapio said Wednesday. "I don't think I've seen an athletic guy like him in a while."

In 20 career games Clowney already has 24 tackles for loss and 14 ½ sacks. His 6 ½ sacks this season rank third in the SEC and he is already within two of cracking the all-time top five in Gamecocks history.

Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said sometimes the best plan against a player as dangerous as the 6-foot-6, 256-pound Clowney is to go straight at him.

“When you go away from them, they get to freelance a little bit, maybe overplay the ball and just get there,’’ Pease said. “Usually those guys from the backside have a tendency to strip the ball. The issue we face if you go at him, they’ve got a pretty good one on the backside.”

Pease is referring to Gamecocks defensive end Devin Taylor, who isn’t as fast as Clowney but even bigger at 6-8, 267 pounds.

Not only can the duo sack the quarterback, their height allows them to disrupt the passing game in other ways.

“Really between him and Taylor, they have done an exceptional job of blocking passing lanes and knocking the ball down,’’ Pease said. “We’re going to have to make sure [Clowney] doesn’t hit the quarterback and plays with great effort. You can’t cut block him; he jumps over blocks. You’ve got to be physical on the guy.”

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