COLUMBIA — Steve Spurrier hasn’t given up on No. 9 South Carolina hitting a few passes, no matter how good the Gamecocks look running the ball or how much Connor Shaw’s right arm might hurt.
The Gamecocks coach said South Carolina (1-0) will keep trying to ignite a passing game today against East Carolina (1-0) that was largely missing in its 17-13 opening victory at Vanderbilt. The team managed just 67 yards through the air, an effort Spurrier thought might have been the low point of his career.
“We had one of the worst passing nights we’ve ever had,” Spurrier said.
Some of it was the offensive line’s poor protection, some was Shaw’s injury that made it painful simply to lift his arm let alone hurl a football 40 yards downfield. Still the gun-slinger, though, Spurrier plans to crank things up again at his home opener.
“We’ll keep it as is and if we’re throwing a bunch of completions, we’ll keep firing away,” Spurrier said “If not, we’re going to the next plan, just like we always do.”
The past few seasons, Spurrier’s had the perfect Plan B to keep the Gamecocks moving forward with a stellar defense and a ground game that’s controlled things the past three seasons.
It worked again at Vanderbilt as Marcus Lattimore rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns, Shaw added 92 yards rushing despite the injury and the Gamecocks held the Commodores without a touchdown the final 40 minutes to give Spurrier the 198th victory of his college career.
Shaw’s status might not be known until kickoff. Spurrier has said if Shaw can’t throw or is in pain, he would not play. But Shaw looked calm and relaxed following practice Wednesday, acknowledging he threw the ball some during the workout.
If Shaw can’t play, Dylan Thompson will get the start.
East Carolina, though, might not be the right opponent to be using an untested quarterback. Shaw knows that first hand.
A year ago, it was Shaw who got the start when South Carolina and East Carolina opened the season in Charlotte, N.C. Shaw was not ready and was ineffective as the Gamecocks fell behind 17-0. South Carolina rallied to a 56-37 win behind fifth-year senior Stephen Garcia.