COLUMBIA — South Carolina will have another week of waiting, though certainly not as anxious as last week, as trainers and coaches determine whether starting quarterback Connor Shaw is healthy enough to play Saturday night at home against Alabama-Birmingham.
They decided last Thursday that the deep bruise in Shaw’s right (throwing) shoulder was still too painful, so USC opted for backup Dylan Thompson as the starter against East Carolina. Thompson threw for 330 yards and helped the Gamecocks win 48-10.
As was the case with ECU, the Gamecocks have a significant talent advantage over UAB. The Blazers are coached by Garrick McGee, who was Arkansas’ offensive coordinator the past two seasons. Nobody will mistake this UAB team for the 2011 Razorbacks. The Blazers were off last week after dropping their opener 39-29 to Troy, which hung 453 yards on them.
Though Spurrier won’t say it, the Gamecocks probably could beat UAB with Thompson under center and Shaw resting for a far more significant game: Sept. 22 at home against Missouri.
“Connor will practice when the trainers say he can practice and the doctors say he’s OK to go,” Spurrier said. “Right now, I doubt that he will do much until Wednesday or so, and we’ll see how he looks then.”
Spurrier said Thompson’s performance against ECU will “help him immensely” in the future but didn’t want to speculate on what Thompson’s role might be when Shaw is healthy. Spurrier said after the ECU game that when Shaw was 100 percent, he would be the starter again.
“We don’t know if Connor is going to have an injury that takes him two or three weeks out or if he’ll be full-go this coming game,” Spurrier said. “I think what Dylan obviously proved is that he can play and that he’s ready when needed.”
The victory boosted USC from No. 9 to No. 8 in the Associated Press poll. It is their highest ranking since they were No. 6 in 2007, entering a home game against Vanderbilt that they lost. The No. 6 ranking was their highest since 1984, when they were No. 2 entering a matchup with Navy that they lost.
Before that game, USC had won three straight games as a top-10 team. It was the only time in school history that the Gamecocks accomplished that feat, before their current run, which started with last season’s bowl game. They have never won four straight games as a top-10 team, but they can do it against UAB on Saturday.
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney bruised his ribs against ECU. “We don’t know how severe it is,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully a couple days off, some ice and treatment and he’ll be OK by the weekend.” ... Redshirt freshman Brandon Shell (Goose Creek High) has now started at left tackle (in the opener) and come off the bench to play right tackle (against ECU). “He likes right tackle, from what (offensive line) coach (Shawn) Elliott tells me,” Spurrier said. “Maybe that’s his best spot. We don’t know yet.”