Jadeveon Clowney practiced Wednesday night and Thursday night. Apparently those practices went well, and all the rehab Clowney has been doing have gone well. Clowney will definitely make the trip, and Coach Spurrier said there's a good chance he can play.
Obviously this is good news for the Carolina defense. Kelsey Quarles and J.T. Surratt played very well last week in Clowney's absence. If those two have another good game Saturday with Clowney in the game, the defensive line should be as strong as we had hoped it would be in the preseason.
Strong defensive line play has many benefits. It means the offense will have to allocate more blockers to the line, giving them less available for the linebackers. SC's young linebackers will greatly benefit from being able to roam free with fewer guards and fullbacks making it to the second level.
The defensive line playing well helps defend the pass game, too. The d-line's effectiveness obviously affects the quarterback's time to pass, but the d-line's effectiveness against the run matters as well. If the d-line is effective against the run, the secondary doesn't have to play as close to the line of scrimmage and doesn't have to play run first. The secondary is less susceptible to play action and can provide better coverage overall.
So, it's good news that Clowney will probably be playing, but if you couple that news with the game Quarles and Surratt had last week, it could be a great week. All eyes will be on No. 7, and he'll be hard to miss, but the keys to USC's defensive success could be No.s 97 and 99.