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Steve Spurrier is not as optimistic as Connor Shaw’s family that South Carolina’s starting quarterback will play this week, but he’s not ruling it out.
“Connor’s condition is a wait-and-see,” Spurrier said Sunday. “It’s just painful for him, and he has trouble lifting his arm right now. It’s pretty hard to play quarterback in the condition he is right now, but they say it may loosen up in three or four days.”
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Shaw, who was injured in Thursday’s 17-13 win against Vanderbilt, did not practice Saturday with the team and isn’t expected to return to the practice field until at least Wednesday. Shaw injured the shoulder blade on his right, throwing arm when he was hit by a Vanderbilt player while diving. Spurrier called it a “deep bruise on the bone.”
Shaw’s father, Lee, a high school coach in Georgia, told The State via text message Saturday that his son is “doing good” and “will play” against East Carolina this week, but Spurrier was not willing to speculate. Connor Shaw said immediately after the game that he “absolutely” would play.
“It depends on if he can throw the ball and is not in pain,” Spurrier said. “We will know more about him come Wednesday. If he’s not healthy, we are not going to play him. We are going to struggle against East Carolina the way it is.”
With Shaw in and out of the lineup due to the injury, the No. 9 Gamecocks (1-0, 1-0 SEC) managed seven completions and 67 passing yards against the Commodores.
“Obviously, our passing game was not good at all,” Spurrier said. “Sometimes, the quarterback maybe took off running when he could have stayed in the pocket; a lot of times he didn’t have time to stay in there and throw. It was a combination of everything.”
The Gamecocks’ 67 yards passing were the lowest of any of Spurrier’s 275 games as a collegiate head coach. His teams have failed to surpass 100 yards passing five times in his collegiate career, and three have come in the past seven outings. All three of those games (67 yards vs. Vanderbilt, 84 yards vs. Florida and 87 yards vs. Tennessee) were victories.
The other two were when he coached Florida against Alabama in the 1999 SEC title game (83 yards), and when he coached Duke against Rutgers in 1987 in the fifth game of his career (97 yards).
“Sometimes we had time to throw and we took off running. Sometimes we didn’t have time to throw and we took off running,” Spurrier said. “Nothing much good was happening when we called a pass. Sometimes we did have some bad plays called, too.”
The Gamecocks attempted 15 passes despite calling 30 pass plays, Spurrier estimated, illustrating how disjointed the team’s throwing offense was.
“It seems like every play was a scramble play, which I don’t like particularly, but we do have a quarterback who can run,” he said. “When you have a quarterback who can run, he’s going to take off running a bunch I guess. Connor has been pretty good in preseason about letting it go. Maybe he reverted back a little bit to scrambling because he is such a good runner with the ball. We need to get somebody open and let him take his steps and let it go.”
Sophomore Dylan Thompson, who was 0-for-3 in relief of Shaw and eventually replaced by senior Seth Strickland on Thursday, will enter the week as the top choice to start the game if Shaw is unable to play, Spurrier said.
South Carolina had 205 yards rushing, including 110 from Marcus Latimore on Thursday, but the Gamecocks’ eighth-year coach was not willing to give up on his passing game this early.
“I hope we can get into a ball game where we think we can hit some passes and get them off and throw them where we are supposed to,” Spurrier said. “It didn’t happen the last time we played. We’ll see if it can happen this Saturday.”
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