Joined The Augusta Chronicle in 1996 after spending nine years at The Aiken Standard. Served as copy editor, South Carolina bureau chief and Metro Editor before being named Sports Editor in April 2000.
Posted September 8, 2012 09:27 pm

QB controversy for Gamecocks?

Is there a quarterback controversy at South Carolina?

I don't think so.

Steve Spurrier, who is no stranger to juggling quarterbacks in his coaching career, could see this one coming from miles away Saturday. After Dylan Thompson stepped in for injured Connor Shaw and lit up East Carolina's secondary, Spurrier did his best to downplay any potential controversy.

"We'll do it like we did this week. We'll get Dylan ready. If Connor is 100 percent to practice Wednesday or Thursday, Connor will be the starter."

Shaw suffered a shoulder injury in the Gamecocks' season opener at Vanderbilt. Shaw and backups Thompson and Seth Strickland combined to throw for a paltry 67 yards against the Commodores.

So earlier this week, Spurrier made a point to say that South Carolina would throw the ball this week. And throw they did.

Thompson completed 21 of 37 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver Ace Sanders threw a touchdown pass on a trick play. And Strickland connected on a 51-yard scoring pass late in the game.

In his postgame remarks, Thompson said he knew his role was to be a backup and fill in when the coaches tell him to do so. He wasn't biting on any budding rivalry between himself and Shaw.

"We're good friends," Thompson said. "We share as much as we can about life and football."

Thompson was excellent Saturday, but a healthy Shaw likely would have generated similar numbers. A year ago against the Pirates, Shaw got the start in place of suspended Stephen Garcia and didn't play very well. A few games later, when Garcia was booted, he stepped up and took control of the Gamecocks and led them to their greatest season ever.

Spurrier and Gamecock Nation can rest easy that Thompson appears to be a capable backup.  That wasn't the case a week ago when Thompson appeared lost when thrust into action when Shaw went down.

"Now we have the confidence that we have a couple of quarterbacks that can play around here," Spurrier said.

South Carolina's magical 1984 season was built on two quarterbacks: Allen Mitchell and Mike Hold. Mitchell was the run specialist, and Hold could fling it all over the lot. Coach Joe Morrison always started Mitchell, and then would bring in Hold. Opposing defenses knew what was coming, but couldn't stop it.

As long as the Gamecocks keep winning, it won't matter who is directing the offense.

One thing is for certain: when it comes to Spurrier and quarterbacks, there won't be any dull moments.