COLUMBIA -- The season doesn't even need to get here for coach Steve Spurrier to fire up some quarterback controversy for South Carolina.
After the team's third preseason scrimmage Thursday, Spurrier reiterated the notion that he'll play both junior Stephen Garcia and freshman Connor Shaw in the Sept. 2 opener against Southern Miss.
Further, as of now, he said he doesn't know who will be the first quarterback in the game.
"We've got two more weeks," Spurrier said after the closed scrimmage. "I don't have to make that decision until two weeks from (Thursday)."
In the spring, Spurrier used Shaw as motivation for Garcia, the returning starter who threw for 2,800 yards and 17 touchdowns a year ago in his first full season as the No. 1 quarterback.
Now, though, Spurrier seems to be viewing Shaw, who arrived in January, as a viable option.
Shaw was the first quarterback employed in Thursday's scrimmage. He immediately led a long touchdown drive and finished 5 for 8 passing for 111 yards and a touchdown.
Garcia, meanwhile, was 11 for 16 for 113 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Safety Akeem Auguste had both pickoffs.
"Yeah, definitely Connor's going to play in the first game," Spurrier said. "Right now we're planning on both of them playing and go from there. Statistically, he's been the best quarterback on the team in every scrimmage. So, that's where we are with that."
Garcia wasn't on the interview list Thursday, but Shaw was. He was told that Spurrier wanted to incorporate him in the game plan for the opener.
"That's really not my call," Shaw said. "I just have to prepare myself for Southern Miss and the games ahead."
Shaw has called the decision to arrive early one of the best he's made. It seems to have paid off by putting him in this position. He says his "investment" in the film room is also working out well. Shaw says he is beginning to recognize coverages much quicker.
He also said he's doing a better job of reading defenses and not focusing on the rush.
Spurrier hasn't knocked Garcia the way he did in the spring. Right now, though, he's not really talking about Garcia all that much.
"Connor Shaw played well again," Spurrier said, early in his post-practice address. "Our other quarterbacks had too many sacks again."
The only times he mentioned Garcia on Thursday were in connection to Shaw. He said Garcia still had time to show something in the scrimmages between now and the opener (another scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday).
"Maybe Stephen will get his act together," Spurrier said.
Zinging the Vols
Spurrier jabbed at Tennessee on his radio call-in show. He said he couldn't believe the Volunteers asked out of their football series with North Carolina.
"I said, 'Golly, times have changed when Tennessee doesn't want to play North Carolina in football because they're too good for them,' " Spurrier said, emphasizing the word football. "That's kind of amazing right there."
The Gamecocks were supposed to play the Tar Heels this season, but USC let North Carolina out of the game to pursue one with LSU. That game is now scheduled for 2013 in Columbia, a return visit after USC went to UNC in 2007.
"We're not going to bail out from playing North Carolina the way Tennessee did," Spurrier said.
Linebacker Shaq Wilson reinjured his hamstring this week. Defensive head coach Ellis Johnson was concerned about when he'd get back Wilson, who has missed all of camp. The depth at outside linebacker, Tony Straughter and Quin Smith, isn't as strong as the middle.