When UCF coach George O’Leary watches South Carolina play, he can tell that Steve Spurrier finally has found his quarterback.
“I really like watching (Connor Shaw) play,” O’Leary said. “You can see that he and Steve have a special relationship. You can see it when the signals are going out. Half the signal is there, and he already knows the play so they are on the same page, and that’s really important.”
Shaw came to Columbia almost four years ago as a three-star prospect without another scholarship offer from an SEC school. On his current pace, he will leave as one of the most productive passers — and rushers — in Gamecocks history.
“We thought he was a really good player,” Spurrier said.
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Shaw, who is on track to become the first quarterback signed during Spurrier’s nine-year tenure at South Carolina to finish his eligibility as a Gamecock, has proven that to his coaches and the rest of the SEC.
He is 2-1 as the starting quarterback this season and has completed 48 of his 74 passes for 661 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing for 202 yards on 47 carries. If he matches those numbers for the rest of the season, he will not only be the winningest quarterback in school history but also near the top of every other statistical measurement.
“He’s played very well,” Spurrier said. “He takes care of the ball extremely well. I watched some of those NFL guys toss those careless interceptions, and I say, ’Our guy doesn’t do that.’ So he’s careful where he throws it, and of course his ability to run out is very helpful also.”
At this pace, Shaw will end his career first in South Carolina history in wins (26), second in passing touchdowns (58), first in completion percentage (66.5 percent) and second in yards per attempt (8.2).
Todd Ellis, the Gamecocks’ winningest all-time quarterback with 24 victories, thought from the first time he saw Shaw that he might have some competition eventually in the record books.
“After reading about him and then watching him on the practice field, he was a much better passer even then when he got here than I thought he was going to be,” Ellis said. “That was my first indicator that we don’t just have a coach’s kid who is an athlete here, we’ve got a quarterback.”
Shaw is on pace to throw for 2,864 yards and rush for 875 this season. That would be the fifth-best passing season in school history and give him 3,739 yards of total offense, the most in Gamecocks history.
While Shaw acknowledged he probably is playing the best football of his career, he declined to discuss his place in the record books.
“I really don’t pay too much attention to anything else,” he said. “All I am worried about is beating Central Florida this week.”
If Connor Shaw continues at his pace, he will be among USC’s best QBs ever.
RECORD AS STARTER
1. Connor Shaw * 26-7
2. Todd Ellis 24-16
T3. Garry Harper 20-12
T3. Stephen Garcia 20-12
T3. Steve Taneyhill 20-19
6. Connor Shaw ** 19-4
1. Steve Taneyhill 62
2. Connor Shaw * 58
3. Todd Ellis 49
4. Stephen Garcia 47
T5. Anthony Wright 38
T5. Blake Mitchell 38
T5. Connor Shaw ** 38
1. Todd Ellis 9,953
2. Steve Taneyhill 8,782
3. Stephen Garcia 7,597
4. Connor Shaw * 6,491
5. Blake Mitchell 5,992
9. Connor Shaw ** 4,288
1. Connor Shaw (current and projected) 66.5
2. Blake Mitchell 60.7
3. Steve Taneyhill 60.5
4. Bobby Fuller 58.8
5. Stephen Garcia 57.7