This post begins a series on Carolina football's 10 biggest plays of 2013. We begin with number 10, Jadeveon Clowney's sack of Tajh Boyd in the second quarter of the Gamecocks' 31-17 win over Clemson.
Let's start out by admitting that this is not the most impressive play Clowney has ever made. Boyd's poor decision-making in the pocket deserves just as much credit for how this play goes down as Clowney does. Boyd's mistake is that he attempts to run for the edge on Clowney's side of the field when he has plenty of room to step up in the pocket in order to buy a little time. Boyd was a capable running quarterback for Clemson, but believing he could rush for positive yardage on Clowney's edge while Clowney was being single blocked by Brandon Thomas was a poor decision and one that an experienced quarterback shouldn't have made.
Why did I include this play, then? Two reasons. First of all, I felt I had to include something by Clowney on this list, even though Clowney's ability to produce highlight-reel plays was limited last year due to how opponents schemed him. The choices that came to mind were his sack of Aaron Murray, the forced fumble against Vandy, and several big hits against Tennessee. Frankly, I didn't want to showcase a play made during a loss in this countdown, particularly anything having to do with the Tennessee game. The Vandy play was great but simply lacked the memorability of a big play against Clemson.
Second of all, Clowney always brought his best for Boyd, and Gamecocks fans will always fondly remember Clowney's 6.5 sacks of a Clemson QB who, truth be told, had a great career other than against Carolina. Clowney's 2013 performance didn't match his legendary 4.5 sack night in Death Valley in 2012, but it was a lot of fun to see Clowney get one more sack against a nemesis he thoroughly dominated during their college careers.