A disappointing performance in the first scrimmage of fall camp and a brief bout of back spasms behind him, senior Connor Shaw remains firmly entrenched as South Carolina’s starting quarterback.
“We will try to find a way to get them both in there, but Connor Shaw in the starter,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “Dylan (Thompson) is going to play somewhere it looks like.”
Shaw, who enters his third season as the regular starter with a 17-3 career record, was 3-for-10 for 27 yards and one interception Saturday. Spurrier mentioned after the practice that Shaw seemed to be battling back stiffness, and Shaw confirmed Thursday that he was having back spasms. One day of treatment has alleviated them, Shaw said.
“He’s fine,” quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus said. “Connor had one of the best practices he has had around here today. Made some throws down the field into tight windows that shows some progress.”
Shaw, who has thrown for 3,627 yards and rushed for another 1,125 in his career, is focused on trying to increase his completion percentage and be more precise on downfield throws like the ones he hit Thursday.
“This is my third year coming in as a starter. I feel really confident and comfortable,” Shaw said. “I think the players know that.”
Reserve tight end Drew Owens agreed.
“He has that spunk about him now that he was kind of missing when he was injured (last season),” Owens said. “His balls have been crisp, tight.”
As for the two-quarterbacks formation that Spurrier and Shaw hinted at during SEC Media Days in July, it’s not yet a reality.
“We haven’t gotten to it yet, but we’re thinking about it,” Spurrier said.
“We will figure it out,” Mangus said. “They are good athletes. Connor can play probably five different positions. When you have those type of athletes, it’s kind of fun to mess around with stuff.”
As for Thompson, five positions might be a stretch. In fact, two positions might be a stretch for Thompson, he concedes.
“You got to remember, I’m a limited athlete, so it’s probably not a good idea to stick me out wide,” he said Thursday.
The Gamecocks won’t begin installing their game plan for the Tar Heels until after Saturday’s scrimmage, but Shaw and Thompson have been watching film of North Carolina all summer, Shaw said.
“We’ll be well prepared for that game,” Shaw said. “They are a talented team. They do certain things we think we can take advantage of. They like to blitz a little bit. We will go into that game really prepared.”