Steve Spurrier announced at his press conference that Connor Shaw will start for the Gamecocks in this weekend's matchup against new SEC member Missouri.
"Connor (Shaw) threw the ball around well last night. He'll start. He's fine."
Shaw has been battling a shoulder injury, which is now referred to as a hairline fracture that he suffered against Vanderbilt in the season-opener. Shaw was limited that night to 7-of-11 passing for just 67 yards with one interception. Shaw's gutsy running ability helped South Carolina take the lead in the fourth quarter to help the Gamecocks beat Vanderbilt 17-13.
Shaw's injury, and subsequent absence, allowed backup Dylan Thompson to earn the start against East Carolina in week two of the 2012 season. Thompson went on to throw for 330 yards on 21-of-37 passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Thompson's performance led many to believe he would earn the start against UAB to give Shaw more time to heal in order to be ready for the Missouri game. However, Shaw felt good late last week and earned the start against the Blazers.
Things didn't go as according to plan.
Shaw struggled in the first half throwing 107 yards on 8-of-14 passing with one touchdown and one interception. He looked timid and uncomfortable on quarterback runs, awkwardly sliding at times, and also seemed not at full strength on several passes. The last pass Shaw threw ended up knocking him out of the game. It was a well-thrown ball to Bruce Ellington that got the Gamecocks on the edge of the goal line but Shaw paid the price. The UAB defender came in on the blitz and leveled Shaw, driving him into the ground. The Gamecocks quarterback remained on the ground in obvious pain and had to be removed from the game.
Spurrier talked about how quarterbacks need to be tough mentally and physically to play these days. He said that the play that knocked Shaw out of the game was partly to blame for coaching and execution on the protection.
"The throw Connor (Shaw) made the other night against UAB, the strong safety came. We screwed up the protection ... we should have blocked that guy. We had the protection called to block it but we didn't execute which is bad coaching. Anyway, Connor stood and threw it, got hit hard and was out the game. That's what quarterbacks have to do. They have to stand and throw the ball."
Shaw is considered a tough, gritty player. He was obviously in some serious pain against Vanderbilt when the injury occurred but continued to play to help the team win. He wanted to play against UAB but his struggles, and injury, opened up the discussion as to whether or not Shaw should be the starter this week.
Spurrier nixed that idea right off the bat in his Tuesday press conference.
The good thing for South Carolina is they have two quarterbacks who can play the game. Spurrier said that the two are good friends off the field and feels like the both would do whatever is necessary for the team to help them win.
"They're such good friends and such good teammates. They're both whatever is best for the team. I hope Connor feels, `Hey Dylan can play. If I'm not doing very well or hurting a bit, we know Dylan can help us win the game.' Hopefully both of them feel pretty good about each other and it makes our team stronger that we have two quarterbacks that can play. We may need both of them as we go through the season."
Spurrier is right.
South Carolina may need both players the rest of the way if the first three games of the year are any indication.
We'll see what happens starting this weekend against Missouri.
Press Conference Notes:-Spurrier said the Gamecocks have accepted the penalty handed down to D.J. Swearinger for his helmet-to-helmet hit in the UAB game. "We accept the penalty and will move on from here." Swearinger will be on the sidelines for the game. Freshman T.J. Gurley will take his spot at safety.
-Spurrier said Dylan Thompson has made some nice throws during his time in the lineup the first few games of the season. "Dylan has dropped it in there very nicely a few. That throw to Bruce (Ellington) we were telling Bruce you weren't open very much at all. That was a perfect throw no question about that. The one to Damiere (Byrd) was real good too."Spurrier also says Connor Shaw is a better than he's shown. Spurrier wants Shaw to "take his steps and fire it in there a few times."
-Spurrier says that his team isn't focused on where the opponent comes from. "We play 12 games a year, hopefully one or two more. You talk about the opponent and this is what they do on offense or defense. We don't care if they're from Georgia, Missouri or California too much. It doesn't mean a lot to our guys. You just try to concern your guys about playing their assignments the best they can."