Re: Life Without Clowney......
As cliche as it sounds, football is a team sport. Clowney is, and was, a tremendous athlete and talent who's production was far beyond the typical stat line. Will he be replaced? Yes, but at the same time his pure athletic ability and talents will remain lost. I mean, he was a once in a decade type of athlete.
This is not to say that whomever takes his spot will fail, or even live up to the expectations set by Clowney, because (this is where it gets cliche) football is a team sport in all aspects of the game. Manning is no Manning without someone to catch the ball for him, or linemen to block for him (seen in the SB). Rice is no Rice without a QB to throw him the ball. Tomlinson is no Tomlinson without a linemen there to open a few holes. Clowney is no Clowney without other factors on the line. Quarles, Sutton, Dixon Jr., etc. etc. all influenced Clowney's play, and benefited from it as well.
With Clowney gone, sure there is something to replace on the defensive line. We're talking about a guy who, when giving it his all, is unblockable pretty much game in and game out. We got away with a lot of simply 4-man rushes with Clowney on the line with the likes of Melvin Ingram, Devin Taylor, Chaz Sutton, Kelcy Quarles, Byron Jerideua, etc. All of these guys are gone, and I think our coaching staff has done a pretty good job at trying to replace this stud-group of linemen that have left the program over the last 3 years. Will there be growing pains? Obviously. But Clowney's departure isn't the end of an era. Lorenzo Ward, Deke Adams, and Kirt Botkin will come together as a group and keep the pressure up on the QB. It may feature more blitz packages from the LB, or even pressure from the safeties/corners, but I don't think we're going to lose much from a pressure standpoint (in terms of the entire defense).
Life is good after Clowney. Every major program goes through this. Someone has to step up and take control over things, and by the time the season starts while people will still miss Clowney and his abilities, there will be a new guy in his spot willing to give 110% to build on what those before him have built. These new guys on the DL have come into a program that has featured one of the best defensive line groups the past 4 years, and now's not the time to change that.