COLUMBIA — On the third play from scrimmage, South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw overthrew running back Marcus Lattimore.
While Shaw was under pressure, it was a pass he knew he should have completed. As it turned out, it was the only incomplete pass Shaw would throw all afternoon.
Shaw completed the next 20 passes he attempted, setting a school record, and finished the game 20 of 21 for 249 yards and two touchdowns in the Gamecocks’ 31-10 win over Missouri on Saturday.
Shaw’s 20 straight completions were second most in SEC history. Only Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin threw more consecutive completions (23), which came against South Carolina in 1998.
“Connor got off to a slow start,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier joked after the game. “He missed his first one. He was sensational.”
He also set a school single-game record for completion percentage (.952), a mark previously owned by Gordon Beckham, who completed 16 of 17 (.941) against North Carolina in 1981.
The Missouri defense played its safeties well off the line of scrimmage, and Shaw was content to make short passes.
Lattimore plays without brace
It’s been almost a year since Lattimore suffered a season-ending knee injury against Mississippi State last season.
Lattimore reached a milestone of sorts on Saturday against Missouri. For the first time this season he played without a knee brace.
“We talked with the team doctors, the trainers and the coaches and we agreed it was OK and I could take it off,” said Lattimore.
Lattimore finished with 85 yards on 21 attempts and led the team with seven receptions for 60 yards. He also added two more TDs to push his total to 36, a school record. Lattimore’s two rushing TDs gives him 33 on the ground for his career, also a school record.
Offensive line shift
Unhappy with the offensive line’s play against UAB last week, offensive line coach Shawn Elliott said he was going to make some adjustments to the starting lineup.
Sophomore Corey Robinson made the first start of his career at left tackle and Mike Matulis was moved from left tackle to right tackle. Matulis had started the last two games at left tackle.
Robinson is blessed with quick feet but has been unable to crack the starting lineup.
“He came in the same class I did, so I’ve known all along what Corey was capable of doing,” Lattimore said. “I think his mindset changed back in July ... He realized that he can do this.”
Gurley makes first start
With free safety D.J. Swearinger serving a one-game suspension for his helmet-to-helmet hit in last week’s game against UAB, the pressure appeared to be on true freshman T.J. Gurley, who was making his first start.
Swearinger’s absence proved to be a non-issue as the Gamecocks’ defensive line never gave Missouri quarterback much time to throw the ball. Gurley finished with two tackles.
“For a freshman to start his first SEC game in this stadium, I think that’s huge,” said USC defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. “It will be a huge confidence boost for him and I think we now have three solid safeties we can go out and play with.”
Mitch in the house
Wakefield High School quarterback Connor Mitch watched his second South Carolina game at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday.
Mitch, one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, verbally committed to the Gamecocks last May having never seen a game at Williams-Brice.
Mitch said. “This is why I committed to play here. I want to play in this kind of atmosphere.”
Mitch is the 17th-ranked QB prospect in the country, according to Rivals.com.
Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles left the game in the third quarter with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. He did not return. Ward said he thinks it’s not too serious.
Cornerback Victor Hampton took a shot to the head late in the fourth quarter and appeared to be woozy on the sidelines. Ward said Hampton was fine after the game.
“I think his pride was hurt more than his head on that slant pass,” Ward said.
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