USC’s Shaw takes aim at SEC completions record

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw drops back to pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Missouri at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Brett Flashnick)

COLUMBIA — South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw talked after Saturday’s 31-10 win over Missouri about quickly turning the team’s focus to this week’s game at Kentucky. That’s typical of football players and coaches, who try not to carry over emotions from one game to the next.

But Shaw will carry over something from the Missouri game. After throwing an incomplete pass on his first attempt, he completed his final 20 passes.

It was the second-most consecutive completions in a single game by a Southeastern Conference quarterback, behind only Tee Martin’s 23 against the Gamecocks in 1998. Shaw’s 20 are two ahead of Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson (2011) and Mississippi’s Eli Manning (2001).

Martin holds the overall consecutive completions record, 24, because he hit his last pass against Alabama in the game before he faced USC. Mississippi’s Kent Austin is tied with Shaw for second in overall consecutive completions, with 20 (five against Tulane, 15 against Tennessee).

If Shaw connects on his first five passes Saturday night at Kentucky, he will pass Martin. But Martin will still hold the SEC’s single-game completion percentage record (95.8 against USC in 1998, when he was 23 of 24). That record requires a minimum of 20 completions. Shaw is second on the list, with his school-record 95.2 from Saturday. No other player on the list has done better than 88.6 (Florida’s Tim Tebow in 2010).

The Bowl Subdivision (Division I) record for consecutive passes completed in one game is 26 by East Carolina’s Dominique Davis in 2011. Davis also holds the record for overall consecutive completions (36). In 2011, he completed his final 10 passes in one game and first 26 in the next.

For his performance against Missouri, which also included 249 yards and two touchdown passes, Shaw on Monday was named the SEC’s co-offensive player of the week. Ace Sanders was named co-special teams player of the week. His 49-yard punt return against Missouri, to the Tigers’ 4-yard line, set up the game’s first touchdown.

The SEC on Monday announced that USC’s Oct. 6 home game against Georgia — which could be the de facto SEC East Division championship game — will kick off at 7 p.m. and air on ESPN.

The game is the midpoint of both teams’ regular seasons. Georgia is ranked fifth in both polls, one spot ahead of South Carolina. If the Bulldogs beat Tennessee at home this weekend and USC beats Kentucky, both teams will enter the game with identical records — 5-0 (3-0 SEC).

In its first four seasons in the SEC, USC opened the season with Georgia. Every season after that, USC played Georgia in Week 2, with the exception of 2002, 2003 and 2008, when the Gamecocks played Georgia in their third game.

But the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC this season meant the league had to rework the schedule, and USC-Georgia was pushed to Week 6.

Junior defensive end Chaz Sutton has started just one game in his career, last year against Kentucky. He is a second-stringer this season, behind senior Devin Taylor and sophomore Jadeveon Clowney. But Sutton plays in the Gamecocks’ “rabbits” package, in which they put four ends on the field at the same time. They use it in pass rushing situations.

Sutton on Saturday showed why he was named USC’s most improved defensive lineman during spring practices. He had two tackles for a loss, including a sack, and a forced fumble. It was a positive sign for Sutton, who will be in the mix to start next season when Taylor is gone.

“Chaz has played good all season,” defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. “He didn’t play a lot against Vandy, but he started playing a lot more against East Carolina and played well against UAB, and he’s starting to make plays and I think he’s starting to develop more confidence in himself.”