The portions of the Internet Intelligentsia out to unseat Dylan Thompson as South Carolina’s starting quarterback were tough on him Saturday night.
No tougher, though, than the Gamecocks senior was on himself.
“We really felt like every time we had the ball we were going to score,” Thompson said. “I turned the ball over twice in the red zone, and that’s stuff you can’t do. If I don’t do that, we win the game. That’s what hurts right now.”
Thompson deserved better than that feeling on his 23rd birthday. He also threw for a career-high 402 yards, joining Steve Taneyhill and Todd Ellis as the only South Carolina quarterbacks ever to surpass 400. Thompson’s night was the fifth-best in school history and the first passing game of more than 400 since Taneyhill’s school-record 473 against Mississippi State in 1995.
“He really had an excellent game,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “On two of the interceptions, he got hit.”
Thompson finished with three interceptions because his final pass, a 41-yard Hail Mary heave, was picked off in the end zone as time expired.
“I told Dylan that was his best play of the night,” Spurrier said. “He stepped up in there and got it into the end zone.”
Thompson also had a career-high five touchdown passes, tying the school record, and completed 29-of-50 passes. He completed passes to 10 players and also caught a pass for a 14-yard gain.
“They kept playing us man, and when they play man as an offense you have to make the defense pay and for the most part I think we did that. But it wasn’t enough, so there is no point in talking about it,” he said.
Here is a point worth making: Against the two highest-ranked opponents South Carolina has played this season (Auburn and Georgia), Thompson was 50-of-80 for 673 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
“Just gotta be sharper,” he said when the Auburn game was over.