South Carolina DC on Clowney: 'I think he'll play' against Arkansas

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward is encouraged by Clowney's participation in practice this week. (USATSI)
South Carolina DC Lorenzo Ward is encouraged by Clowney's participation in practice this week. (USATSI)

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is expected to play against Arkansas after missing one game and several practices due to a strained muscle near his ribcage.

Clowney was not available for comment Thursday, but defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward was pleased with what he saw from Clowney in two full days of practice this week, suggesting that No. 7 will be back on the field for the Gamecocks in Fayetteville against the Razorbacks.

"I think he'll play based on what we've seen the last two days," Ward said after Thursday's practice. "He's gotten better. He's still getting a lot of treatment and he'll continue to get a lot of treatment."

Clowney's status for the game became a national story after a visibly frustrated Steve Spurrier told reporters after the game that Clowney took himself out of last week's win against Kentucky. The coaches figured that he would play, despite missing practices, and the sudden change of heart led to a week of chatter regarding Clowney's commitment to the Gamecocks.

Once the story exploded, Spurrier was quick to clear the air regarding his opinion on Clowney. He admitted that everyone involved in the situation "handled it poorly."

"He has been coming to treatment, I think, twice a day and told me he is doing everything he can to try to get ready to play," Spurrier said earlier this week. "All those No. 7 jerseys, and all the money he's made for our school -- he's been a tremendous, important player. And we all, every Gamecock, including me, coaches, everybody out there -- we need to be appreciative he chose South Carolina."

If Clowney is healthy and plays, that should end rib-gate for the moment. Now fans in SEC country can return to the more appropriate rib debates; like the best recipe for sauce to apply to said ribs.

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