Senior quarterback Connor Shaw is expected to take the field next week when South Carolina opens spring practice, but he’ll take it very gingerly.
Shaw, the Gamecocks returning starter, is recovering from foot surgery and will not participate in live drills, but “he’ll be able to stand and throw,” coach Steve Spurrier said.
While Shaw continues his recovery, junior quarterback Dylan Thompson will lead a quarterback pack that will include redshirt freshman Brendan Nosovitch and incoming freshman Connor Mitch, who enrolled early in order to participate in spring practice this year.
“Dylan will get an awful lot (of work),” Spurrier said.
Shaw and Thompson each played in 11 games last season with Shaw sitting out against East Carolina and Clemson due to his foot injury. Shaw finished the season 154-of-228 for 1,956 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also was the team’s second-leading rusher with 435 yards. Thompson finished 66-of-127 for 1,027 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. He finished the year with 23 yards rushing.
“We’ve got two good quarterbacks, and you can win with two good ones,” Spurrier said. “They both have their strengths. Obviously, Connor is an excellent runner. He can go a long way with it. We may have an offense where both of them can play. There will be a place for Connor and Dylan I think next year.”
The Gamecocks will practice Tuesday and Thursday before taking off for the school’s spring break and returning on March 19 for the first of 13 workouts that will culminate with the Garnet and Black spring game at 1 p.m. on April 13 in Williams-Brice Stadium.
All of the team’s spring practices and scrimmages are scheduled to be open to the public. South Carolina finished11-2 and ranked a program-best No. 8 in the nation last season.
After quarterback, the two positions to watch this spring will be linebacker and running back.
The Gamecocks have to replace their top four linebackers, plus starting spur DeVonte Holloman, for the 2013 season. With none of the four linebackers signed in the 2013 class available this spring, South Carolina will be very thin at the position for the next 15 practices.
Tight end Kelvin Rainey has been moved to linebacker to provide depth at the position, linebackers coach Kirk Botkin told 560 The Team radio last week. Rainey’s move will help offset the absence of Cedrick Cooper from spring drills. Cooper still is rehabilitating a torn ACL suffered during bowl practice.
At running back, the Gamecocks will begin auditions to replace Marcus Lattimore and Kenny Miles. Lattimore led the Gamecocks in rushing with 662 yards on 143 carries despite playing only nine games due to a knee injury. Miles finished with 359 yards on 104 carries.
The team’s next-leading rusher, sophomore Mike Davis, will be competing this spring with Brandon Wilds, who missed all of the 2012 season with an ankle injury. Davis had 52 carries for 275 yards as a true freshman. Wilds had 107 carries for 486 yards in 2011. Shon Carson, who could figure in the running back rotation in the fall, is playing baseball this spring.