There’s an old saying that the most popular player on the team is the backup quarterback.
USC sophomore quarterback Dylan Thompson doesn’t worry too much about that. He’s just focused on getting better as he tries to press returning starter Connor Shaw for the job.
While Shaw begins this season entrenched as the starter, USC coach Steve Spurrier has already expressed confidence in Thompson, who has thrown two career passes, as a reliable alternative in case anything happens to Shaw.
Thompson likes to hear that, but he knows that he must prove himself every day.
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“It’s always good to have Coach’s trust. That’s a big deal, especially here,” he said. “At the same time, I can’t get complacent. I can’t be happy with where I’m at. I’m always trying to work, just trying to push Connor because he’s a great quarterback.”
Thompson said he is intent on studying the playbook and watching film to get better. He talked about a story on New England quarterback Tom Brady shown to the quarterbacks Thursday.
“That spoke to me real heavily. Never be satisfied with where I’m at,” he said. “I’m always trying to learn and always trying to get better. That’s the attitude I have.”
Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus noted how Thompson and Shaw spent a lot of time together over the summer.
“They have a great commitment level, and I think it has showed here early in camp,” he said.
Mangus likes how Thompson is learning as he goes.
“Dylan has done very well. Does he make some mistakes here and there? Yeah,” he said. “But he’s getting a lot more reps right now, and quarterback is all about making those mistakes and then not making them again. He made a couple today, but I think the progress will continue. He’s shown that he is quite capable and ready to play.”
The receivers have taken notice as well.
“Dylan has improved a lot. He knows a lot more,” freshman K.J. Brent said. “Connor’s the leader. He knows all the plays, and he knows where to get the ball. They’re looking good.”
Shaw understands he’s going to get pushed by Thompson and the other quarterbacks.
“That’s the beauty of Connor. He embraces that,” Mangus said. “The way he carries himself, not only with being the incumbent starter, but it’s where he’s at with the comfort level of the entire offense. He’s put in the time to learn it inside and out, and he’s much more comfortable being at the controls.”