Spurrier: Clowney working to return vs. Arkansas

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH/AP) -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says injured All-American Jadeveon Clowney is working hard so he can play against Arkansas on Saturday.

Since the 6-foot-6, 274-pound defensive end said shortly before kickoff last Saturday against Kentucky that he was in too much pain to play, there have been questions about whether the potential No. 1 pick in next year's NFL draft was shutting it down for the season.

Spurrier also seemed annoyed immediately after the game but was telling a different story on Tuesday, saying medical and training staff protocol wasn't followed in Clowney being scratched from the lineup.

"We didn't handle it well, I think, the whole group of us," said Spurrier. "Let me say this about Jadeveon. If he never plays another snap here, we all should be thankful and appreciative that he came to South Carolina."

Spurrier pointed to the impact Clowney has made on and off the field during the 26 games South Carolina has won and the two 11-win seasons Clowney has been a part of during his time on campus.

Still, many national analysts have questioned Clowney's commitment to the team following Saturday's last-minute decision, and a laundry list of ailments such as bone spurs in his foot, and a stomach virus that have reportedly bothered Clowney during games this season.

Clowney's production is not what some had hoped so far this season. He has 12 tackles and just two sacks, but, opposing offenses have made a practice of running a majority of their plays away from the defensive end.

On Tuesday, ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum called Clowney the "biggest joke in college football."

After opening his weekly news conference with his comments about the Clowney situation, Spurrier bristled a bit after getting repeated questions about Clowney's status, but indicated the issue was not causing any problems.

"The team's okay. We're trying to regroup around here. Play a little defense, play a little offense, special teams and get ready to beat Arkansas," said Spurrier. "I wish it had been handled better all the way around through all of us and I don't think we would have had such a turmoil about it."

Spurrier said he will know later this week if Clowney has recovered enough from a strained muscle to play Saturday at Arkansas.