Steve Spurrier set the record straight Monday about his quarterback plans for Tuesday’s Outback Bowl.
The record, he acknowledged, had been set askew by early comments he made on the subject.
“Let me address that maybe differently than the last time I talked about it,” South Carolina’s coach said during the final news conference before Tuesday’s game. “We are hoping Connor (Shaw) plays most all the game. That’s what we’re hoping for. We think he deserves the right to go into it like, ‘This is my game.’ ”
Shaw has started 10 of 12 games this year but didn’t play against Clemson due to a foot injury. Backup Dylan Thompson threw for 310 yards in leading the Gamecocks to a 27-17 win over the Tigers on Nov. 24, and Spurrier said Saturday he didn’t know which quarterback would see more playing time against Michigan in Raymond James Stadium.
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“Connor has been our starter pretty much all year. Right now, we are going into it as it’s his game. ‘This is your game, let’s go, don’t worry about making mistakes, getting jerked out or anything like that,’ ” Spurrier said. “Dylan’s going to play in there somewhere.”
Shaw has thrown for 1,732 yards 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushed for 339 yards and three touchdowns this season. Thompson has thrown for 910 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions and rushed for 35 yards.
Michigan QB plans
Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke confirmed what most everyone here assumed Monday, saying junior Devin Gardner will start at quarterback.
“And Denard (Robinson) will play some quarterback,” Hoke said. “It’s how we finished the year is how we’ll play it out.”
Hoke would not say who will start at running back, leaving the door open for Robinson to be a starter for his final game at Michigan at running back.
There will be some empty seats in Raymond James Stadium, which has become commonplace in bowl games.
“I think a lot of these bowls are made for television. Obviously there is nobody in the stands at a lot of them hardly and you can understand that,” Spurrier said. “Football is a sport that it seems people like to watch on television. If there’s nobody in the stands, that’s OK I believe is the thought as long as people are watching on television.”
Spurrier praised freshman quarterback Brendan Nosovitch and freshman wide receiver Kwinton Smith on Monday. Both players are redshirting this season, and both came to South Carolina with impressive resumes.
Nosovitch was a PARADE All-American and the Pennsylvania player of the year. Smith is a three-star prospect from Dillon High.
Brendan Nosovitch is looking good in our little Monday night scrimmages where we don’t tackle. He’s done well and some of those young receivers are looking good. Kwinton Smith has a chance to be a good player next year.
Ready to go
Both coaches pronounced their teams healthy and ready to play.
“I think our guys have practiced pretty well, pretty well,” Spurrier said. “You always hope that leads to an excellent game. You never know what’s going to happen when the real ball is kicked off. We’ve done pretty well. We haven’t had to send anybody home, haven’t read where (Michigan has) had to send anybody home. Everybody is making curfews. We’ve got two mature teams probably getting ready to battle out there tomorrow.”
Hoke, 54, was asked Monday if he ever could imagine coaching as long as the 67-year-old Spurrier.
“I don’t know what else I’d do,” he said.
At that point, Spurrier half-whispered into Hoke’s ear, “'Hopefully' is always a good answer.”
Spurrier-Hoke press conference
Sunday practice highlights