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SEC notebook: Conditioning questioned after opener

The SportsXchange

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina All-American defensive end and Heisman hopeful Jadeveon Clowney was credited with three tackles and no sacks in Thursday's primetime opener against North Carolina.

He did register three quarterback hurries, but cramped up a few times in the second half and a bunch of the post-game chatter centered around the Gamecocks conditioning.

"I was pretty tired but you have to play through that," Clowney said. "I was still coming off the ball and that's what that matters. I might be bent over sometimes but when that ball snaps, I was getting off."

Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward thought all South Carolina players struggled with being fatigue.

"It wasn't just Clowney," Ward said. "I think the entire defense got winded. We knew coming in that (UNC) was going to hurry up. We tried to stimulate it in practice but that was the fastest team I've ever seen."

--No. 7 Texas A&M hasn't announced a starting quarterback for Saturday's game against Rice. Freshman Kenny Hill and junior Matt Joeckel are the contenders with Johnny Manziel suspended for the first half by the NCAA. Joeckel, and Arlington High School graduate, was listed as the backup at the end of spring drills.

Coach Kevin Sumlin said the job was an ongoing competition.

Both quarterbacks are experienced in the spread offense because they ran the scheme in high school.

Hill is a dual-threat quarterback wih a stronger arm than Joeckel (6-4, 230), and also rushed for more than 2.700 yards in his final two seasons in high school, which included a state title at Southlake Carroll, the same program that produced Chase Daniel (Missouri) and Colt McCoy (Texas).

Joeckel has been on the College Station campus longer, but is older, not necessarily more experienced. He played in five games last season, attempting 11 passes for Texas A&M. Quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital said the game would likely be called differently for Joeckel, a pure pocket passer, than it would Manziel and Hill.

--LSU coach Les Miles knows the ins and outs of the 4-2-5 defense employed by TCU, the Tigers' opening opponent Saturday at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Miles learned the defense under Bill Clay when they were together at Oklahoma State, but said TCU's defense is more of a read-react hybrid.

"What they do is at times they're a reading team and they play off the ball, and they're basically designed so that they don't let double teams onto their linebackers," Miles said. "Linebackers are close to the line of scrimmage. They have a call that says that they're not going to play coverage and they're going to play in there tight, and tell those linebackers to pass flow, and those safeties have cutbacks and really hang on the line of scrimmage, and then they have coverage calls that say, well, safeties back up, and those linebackers now have to sit back and play a dual responsibility."

Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has studied up on the scheme and worked against it all month. Miles said he expects Mettenberger to be one of the most improved players in the conference this season, but keeping him under control is a constant concern.

"The key to him, is take it a day at a time," Miles said, "not put the cart in front of the horse."
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