The talk turned to quarterbacks Saturday as South Carolina and Michigan continued their preparation for the Outback Bowl.
Expect to see a lot of them Tuesday afternoon here in Raymond James Stadium. Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said he will play both junior Connor Shaw and sophomore Dylan Thompson under center, and Michigan’s Brady Hoke indicated he’ll also have two people taking snaps during the game.
Shaw will start, and No. 11 South Carolina plans on using one quarterback for most of the game, but Spurrier doesn’t know which one it will be.
“I hope it doesn’t turn into one of these: you messed up, so you go in, now you messed up, you go back in,” Spurrier said. “We just feel like both of these guys deserve the chance to play.”
Shaw has started 10 of 12 games this year but didn’t play against Clemson on Nov. 24 because of a foot injury.
“Connor’s foot is 100 percent well, and he’s ready to go,” Spurrier said.
Michigan’s regular starting quarterback also is getting healthier, Hoke said. Denard Robinson, who has started 28 games at quarterback for Michigan but hasn’t played there the past four game because of an elbow injury, “is throwing the ball really well” this week, Hoke said.
The No. 19 Wolverines still are expected to start junior Devin Gardner at quarterback, but Robinson figures heavily into the offensive plan, whether it be at quarterback, running back or wide receiver.
“He could do about anything,” Hoke said. “He doesn’t punt real well, but he can do a lot of things.”
South Carolina will be ready for either quarterback, Spurrier said.
“Our defensive coaches feel like we have to be prepared for both of them,” Spurrier said.
Both coaches dismissed the game’s bearing on conference pride.
“When the ball is kicked off, it’s our guys against their guys, it doesn’t matter, Big Ten, SEC, ACC whatever,” Spurrier said. “It’s our 11 and their 11.”
“Whether it’s the SEC or the Big Ten or whatever, it’s two pretty good football teams who are going to lay it out there on (Tuesday),” Hoke said.
The Gamecocks have had “decent” practices, this week, Spurrier said.
“Hopefully, we will play one of our best games of the year,” he said.
Hoke declined to predict how his team might play.
“The only thing I can tell you is I really like how we have taken care of each other,” he said. “They have done a good job practice wise. The timing from an offensive standpoint has been very positive and the assignment and the effort to the football defensively has been really good. But I felt that way before we went and played Notre Dame and we turned the ball over six times.”