COLUMBIA – South Carolina will start sophomore Dylan Thompson at quarterback for today’s 12:21 p.m. home opener against East Carolina, coach Steve Spurrier told ESPN before the game.

Spurrier said on his radio show Thursday that USC’s trainers were optimistic about junior and regular starter Connor Shaw being able to play. Shaw bruised his right (throwing) shoulder in last Thursday’s 17-13 season opening win at Vanderbilt. He has been the starter since the middle of last season.

This will be the first start of Thompson’s career. Before replacing Shaw at Vanderbilt – though Shaw did return – Thompson’s career experience amounted to four games in mop-up duty last season as a redshirt freshman. He completed 2 of 2 passes for 17 yards.

At Vanderbilt, he was 0-of-3 passing. He was in for the first two drives of the second half, both of which went three plays and out, and resulted in minus-12 and minus-2 yards.

Both Shaw and Thompson are currently on the field warming up, as the ninth-ranked Gamecocks prepare to try to keep pace with East Carolina’s prolific offense. Spurrier said this week that the coaches were trying to boost Thompson’s confidence after his disastrous showing at Vanderbilt. Shaw did not practice until Wednesday. He threw that day and Thursday.

Thompson’s performance at Vanderbilt – or lack thereof – came as something of a surprise, considering the coaches praised Thompson throughout preseason practices and said they were comfortable putting him in the game. That notion will be tested again today.