Which Dylan Thompson will they get?
For South Carolina, that’s probably the biggest question heading into Saturday’s game against Missouri. There are others to be sure: Can offensive tackles who have struggled against quick pass rushers stand up against Missouri’s quick pass rushers? Can a secondary that has allowed a lot of holes this season stop the SEC’s third-best passing offense? Can Mike Davis just go ahead and carry the entire offense on his shoulders?
All those questions are important, but more often than not, football comes down to the starting quarterback, and South Carolina will have a new one on Saturday in the biggest game of the year. He’s a familiar new one, but a new one nonetheless. Last season, Thompson was borderline brilliant in his role as super sub, throwing for 10 touchdowns and two interceptions while leading the victory over Clemson and throwing the game-winner against Michigan in the bowl game.
This season has not gone as smoothly. Thompson is completing 56.9 percent of his passes and has thrown as many interceptions (two) as touchdowns. He has been great when it hasn’t mattered much – tossing a touchdown on his only pass against North Carolina and completing 4-of-5 for a touchdown in mop-up duty against Arkansas, etc. – but not as good when he was asked to go a longer distance. Filling in for Shaw against UCF, a shaky Thompson was 15-of-32 for 261 yards and one interception.
There are reasons to believe Thompson will revert back to 2012 form against Missouri, chiefly that he has all week to prepare as the starter. That made a difference last year when he threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns going the distance against Clemson on the road. That’s the Thompson the Gamecocks need against this set of Tigers.
Around the SEC:
We pointed you yesterday to a story about Tennessee coach Butch Jones’ corny motivational techniques. Here’s another one: the Volunteers are not referring to Alabama as “Alabama” this week. They are calling the two-time defending champion “the red team.”
“Mentally, just by their name, when team’s hear that name or when it comes to playing against them, they’re mentally beat already before they step on the field," Tennessee wide receiver Pig Howard said. "I give them their credit, but we’ve got warriors on our team as well. It's just going to be time to go to war."
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is “hopeful” Johnny Manziel can play against Vanderbilt, but the shoulder injury Manziel suffered against Ole Miss may keep him out this week.
Georgia’s Todd Gurley definitely won’t play this week because the Bulldogs don’t play, but Gurley got back on the practice field Tuesday to being preparation for the Florida game in two weeks. The Bulldogs were 3-1 with Gurley, with wins over South Carolina and LSU. They are 1-2 without him with losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt.
“I saw him out there and I was like, ‘Goodness gracious, that dude’s huge.’ He’s a pretty sucker to look at, huge,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said.