GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Is the starting quarterback job at South Carolina up for grabs?
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier did nothing to put that question to rest after Saturday’s 44-11 loss at Florida. At halftime, he replaced Connor Shaw with Dylan Thompson, who played in Shaw’s place in the second game this season, against East Carolina, and for the second half of the third game, against Alabama-Birmingham.
Both times, Thompson played for Shaw because Shaw was dealing with a fracture in his right shoulder blade — an injury he suffered in the season opener at Vanderbilt.
Thompson hadn’t seen any meaningful action in the past four games. Until, that is, the second half against Florida, Spurrier’s former school, where he was famous for switching quarterbacks. Shaw being replaced Saturday had nothing to do with his health.
Shaw completed 9 of 20 passes 72 yards. Thompson completed 8 of 20 for 83 yards and an interception. Both had a long completion of 20 yards and both were sacked twice. Shaw, fleet of foot, ran nine times, counting his sacks, for minus-2 yards.
When asked who will start next week at home against Tennessee, Spurrier said, “I don’t know.”
With the quarterback situation uncertain as the Gamecocks prepare for their ninth of 12 regular season games, does that affect the offense?
“It impacts the offense,” said receiver Ace Sanders. “That’s a captain’s position. With it being up for grabs this late in the season, it’s kind of tough to deal with.”
Backup safety T.J. Gurley suffered an apparent knee injury on a punt coverage play in the first quarter. Spurrier said Gurley probably has a torn ligament.
Jadeveon Clowney left the stadium in a walking boot to protect a bone bruise on the arch of his right foot.
“It hurts a lot,” Clowney said. “I just deal with it.”
Marcus Lattimore said his advertised hip injury is “more of a lower back” ailment. He expects to practice this week.
South Carolina managed only 34 yards rushing in last week’s 23-21 loss at LSU and 36 at Florida. What happened to the Gamecocks’ running attack?
Answers include Lattimore’s injury (he didn’t start Saturday and gained 13 yards on three carries), an evolving offensive line and, of course, two of the best defenses in college football.
“It hurts when you don’t establish a running game early,” quarterback Connor Shaw said, “because we’ve relied on that.”
Florida forced four turnovers and converted three fumbles into 21 points. The Gators have a plus-11 turnover margin for the season.
South Carolina has a minus-6 turnover margin.
Not since Bama
The last time South Carolina failed to score a touchdown? Not since a 20-6 loss at Alabama on Oct. 17, 2009.