Spurrier: "This is his game"

Steve Spurrier said on Tuesday that Connor Shaw will get the start for South Carolian and will be allowed to go the distance for the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks are looking to avoid their third straight loss this weekend at home against Tennessee.

After Saturday's blowout loss to the Florida Gators, the inevitable quarterback questions arrived for South Carolina's head coach.

Spurrier, known for his propensity to pull quarterbacks if they struggle, said to reporters, "I don't know," when asked who his starter would be.

During Sunday's teleconference, Spurrier said that Connor Shaw would start in all likelihood this weekend against Tennessee. Coach Spurrier reiterated those statements emphatically on Tuesday.

"This is his game. If he skunks it up the first half, he's going to skunk it up the second half. This is his game."

Interesting choice of words there from the Head Ball Coach, but this shows that Spurrier is getting behind his starting quarterback, who is 15-3 all-time as a starter for South Carolina dating back to the 2011 season.

Spurrier admits Shaw is not performing at the level in recent weeks that he has been so far this season. Shaw's struggles the last few weeks have certainly been a factor, but not the only reason, that South Carolina has lost two straight games after opening the season with six straight wins.

"Certainly he hasn't performed as well as he was earlier in the year. We don't have all the reasons for it. We've had games we've attempted to pass more than we intended to. We'll try to play to Connor's strengths and give him the opportunity to be successful."

Obviously, a major reason for Shaw's success is his running ability. The Gamecocks quarterback is the second-leading rusher on the team with 278 yards on 85 attempts this season. His backfield teammate, Marcus Lattimore, is another player who needs to get more involved in the offense to give Shaw, and the Gamecocks, the best chance to win. Spurrier knows that and mentioned it on Tuesday.

"We need Marcus Lattimore to run the ball more. Our formula for winning hasn't occurred much the last few weeks. We know what it is. We will hope and try our best to get back to that. Like I said we know Marcus needs to run more. We are going to try our best to get it to him more. Stay on the field for first downs. We know we can't run him every play, but we know how our wins have occurred in the past and we're going to try to get back there."

Lattimore's health was a concern last weekend with an injury Coach Spurrier called a "bruised hip." Lattimore himself admitted that it was more of a back injury, but regardless, the South Carolina running back should be back to full health for this weekend's game against Tennessee.

"I think he's okay now," Spurrier said. "He was probably pretty close to 100% last Saturday. Fumbles got us behind. We thought it would be smart to rest him for another day. Rest him for the next battle. He should be ready."

A healthy Lattimore and the home field crowd will certainly give South Carolina the chance to pull out the victory this Saturday. While some of the goals this season, like the SEC East title and the SEC Championship, are a longshot at this point, the Gamecocks still have plenty to play for the rest of the season.

"So, you've always got hope. When it's gone, you say we've got the next goal and start moving on. As a coach, I like to set eight to 10 goals for a season and see how many we can hit."

One of those goals will be to win all of the home games for the Gamecocks this season.

"One of our goals is to win all the home games. We're still in the position to achieve that if we can regroup a bit, start playing smart and start playing up to our potential."

The hope for the Gamecocks is the return home will help South Carolina get back to its winning ways and see where things go from there. It can all start back this weekend against the Tennessee Volunteers.

"We haven't performed well the last couple weeks. We need to regroup and get this season back rolling the way we had it going a couple weeks ago. We're looking forward to playing Tennessee, which is a pretty good rivalry for South Carolina the times I've been here. I know prior to that they've beaten us a whole bunch. We're pretty even with them right now, so hopefully we'll stay ahead."

South Carolina and Tennessee will face-off this weekend on ESPN at noon.

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