Add another chapter to Connor Shaw’s legacy, although the one he’s writing already resembles “War and Peace.”
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said during his Sunday teleconference that Shaw, who came off a sprained knee to direct a fourth-quarter surge and beat No. 5 Missouri 27-24 on Saturday, was sick before the game.
“He’s had sort of a little flu bug,” Spurrier said. “Maybe a stomach virus. He didn’t go to the movie with the team Friday night and didn’t come to the breakfast. He actually didn’t go to the stadium (with us on an early-morning visit). He stayed back, I think he ate a little bit of his pregame meal, and he felt pretty good.”
Feeling ill and trying to work a gimpy knee in dropping temperatures, Shaw stunned the Tigers. From trailing 17-0 at the start of the fourth quarter to seeing Andrew Baggett clang a game-ending kick off the upright, Shaw was at his best Saturday.
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Shaw should be back to full health Saturday, when Mississippi State visits to kick off a four-game homestand.
“Maybe because his knee had a little light brace on it, maybe it made him stay in the pocket a little bit longer and throw the ball,” Spurrier said. “He can do it. He can make all the throws.”
The Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2 SEC) host the Bulldogs (4-3, 1-2) at 12:21 p.m. on Saturday, hoping to extend a six-game winning streak in the series and stay in contention for the SEC East crown. USC remains a game behind Missouri but holds the tiebreaker; the Tigers have four more SEC games, including Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Fellow contenders Florida and Georgia each have two losses and play one another Saturday.
“We talked about it very briefly,” Spurrier said. “If we don’t beat these guys, then we’re out of the division race. But if we do, we’re just one game back. We know the position we’re in, but the only thing we need is to try and get ready for Mississippi State, play better than we played last week. We seem to play a little bit better at home, so maybe that will help us.”
USC is bowl eligible and still alive for the SEC championship and even if they don’t get to Atlanta, still can win their final four games and a bowl game to match the win total from the previous two years.
“We didn’t talk about it too much, but after the game, somebody said, ‘Hey, we’re bowl eligible,’ and I said, ‘You doggone right we’re bowl eligible,’ ” Spurrier said. “My wife said something about the bowl game this year, and I said, ‘Jerri, we’re not bowl eligible yet, pal. Got to wait until we get that sixth win.’ We’ve all seen teams where something bad just keeps happening, so yeah, we’re very happy to get that sixth win.”
Running back Mike Davis “almost sprained his foot,” Spurrier said, but he hopefully will be ready Saturday. He will miss most of practice this week. Davis needs 70 yards to reach 1,000 for the season and become the fifth USC back to do so since Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers hit the mark.
Ronald Patrick, Gerald Dixon and Rory Anderson each are fighting sprained ankles.
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