NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The ninth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks turned in one of the ugliest passing nights for a Steve Spurrier-coached team to open up the 2012 season. Good thing the old ball coach had Marcus Lattimore back and Connor Shaw turning in a gutsy performance with a bruised shoulder.
Lattimore ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns, while Shaw added 92 yards to help South Carolina rally and pull out a 17-13 win Thursday night over Vanderbilt.
“Our guys didn’t give up and I think we’re in pretty good shape, but man I hope we can play a lot better offensively next week,” Spurrier said.
South Carolina came in with high expectations after going 11-2 last season and finishing second in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division. Then Lattimore fumbled on his first carry, and Shaw had his first pass intercepted to go with a penalty in the Gamecocks’ first four plays of the night. It got worse when Shaw took a helmet on the back of his right, throwing shoulder late in the first half.
He went to the locker room where he said he took “some medicine.” The junior quarterback missed the first two series of the second half before returning and didn’t get South Carolina across midfield until the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter.
“It wasn’t too pretty, but we’ll take the win, especially against Vanderbilt in this place,” Shaw said.
The Gamecocks got five sacks, and Shaq Wilson came up with an interception to end a Vanderbilt scoring threat that set up Lattimore’s first TD, a 29-yarder in the first quarter.
“I hated that happening, but I just had to forget about it,” Lattimore said of his fumble. “After a few runs, I started to feel like myself again.”
Spurrier used three different quarterbacks, including senior Seth Strickland, who’s only on the depth chart as a holder, when Shaw shuffled to the sideline holding his right arm close to his side to protect his aching shoulder. South Carolina finished with 67 yards passing, a poor showing for a Spurrier-coached team.
“We couldn’t get much passing, so we had to at least try to run and get a touchdown or two and let our defense play,” Spurrier said. “And fortunately, our defense held them to 13.”