COLUMBIA — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said he won’t rest anyone healthy for this week’s game against Coastal Carolina.
However, he did acknowledge Tuesday that he is taking the opportunity of playing the Football Championship Subdivision opponent to tinker with the lineup for his No. 12 Gamecocks (8-2).
Sophomore tailback Shon Carson will get his first start today as Southeastern Conference leading rusher Mike Davis recovers from an ankle sprain. Spurrier said Davis might be in uniform, but could use the extra rest. Carson ran for 102 yards last week in a 19-14 win over Florida.
Spurrier also told backup quarterback Dylan Thompson he will get some snaps because the coach thinks starter Connor Shaw plays better when he knows his backup will get some playing time, even if he doesn’t know why.
“He can throw a lot better than he threw last week,” Spurrier said of Shaw. “Maybe having Dylan play a series or two will help him out.”
Spurrier is trying to keep his team focused even as they wait to see if Missouri stumbles and sends South Carolina to the SEC title game and have a regular season-ending game with Clemson on the horizon.
He pointed out Coastal Carolina won a share of the Big South Conference title and is 10-1. He talked about how the Chanticleers are in the top 10 in the country in scoring offense and rushing and are the best team in the FCS converting third downs and scoring in the red zone.
“It counts the same as the Clemson game on our record. Y’all did know that, didn’t you?” Spurrier said.
Spurrier is 47-0 against teams outside the BCS in his 24 years coaching.
Still, the players are getting the message. They didn’t want to talk about whether they will watch Missouri and Mississippi after their game ends Saturday, even though a loss by the Tigers sends them to the conference championship. They also didn’t discuss the possibility of an unprecedented fifth straight win over archrival Clemson.
“We’ve been focused on one game at a time. We aren’t looking at what happens next,” defensive end Chaz Sutton said.
Coastal Carolina is getting $375,000 to come to Columbia as part of South Carolina’s ongoing effort to play in-state FCS teams.
“We recognize it is a big game for our team, a big game for our players,” Chanticleers coach Joe Moglia said.
Moglia isn’t ready to give this one to the Gamecocks either. But his team is in the bottom half of FCS in total defense allowing 418 yards a game and going against a South Carolina offense that gains 449 yards a game and is set to shatter the school record for average total offense by almost 20 yards.
“We can’t have any turnovers and we can’t have stupid penalties,” Moglia said.
As the season winds down, South Carolina has several other marks to play for. The Gamecocks have the longest winning streak in a home stadium in college football at 16 victories. If the Gamecocks beat Coastal Carolina, they would reach nine wins for the fourth straight season. In 116 seasons before 2010, South Carolina reached nine wins just twice.
Shaw can set a record too. A win Saturday would be his 25th as a starter, topping Todd Ellis’ mark of 24 wins.