If you want to make a semantical argument that what Jadeveon Clowney did to Vincent Smith in the 2013 Outback Bowl wasn’t a “great” play, we can have that conversation. Yes, he ran through unblocked and hit the guy he was supposed to hit, so if you want to say the play – as in the movement he took to get to the ball carrier and tackle him – wasn’t “great”, then fine.
But you must admit that because of the physical prowess of Clowney the play was “special”, and at the very least “impressive”. As in the most impressive display of explosiveness you have ever seen from a defensive lineman. EVER.
For Devin Gardner to say what he says in the above tweet (assuming McMurphy’s quote is accurate, and I have little reason to believe it is not) is just incredibly disingenuous. Blocks are missed in every game. Tackles are made by unblocked defenders in every game. And on occasion helmets come off because of hard tackles.
But name the last time you saw a ball carrier’s helmet come to rest ten yards behind where he was tackled. You can’t, because this was a once-in-a-lifetime play. Throw in the fact Clowney has the presence of mind to take his big left paw and pick the ball up and try to run with it is just over the top. THAT is why it is so special.
So opponents, Clemson fans, haters, just shut up and enjoy the play. Just because your guy didn’t do it doesn’t make it any less impressive.