South Carolina will be without their starting quarterback Connor Shaw for the next 2-3 weeks with a sprained right shoulder, according to Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier after the Gamecocks’ win over Central Florida. For most teams, losing their starting quarterback for that amount of time all but puts an end to the team’s respective championship aspirations, but that’s not the case for South Carolina, who has Dylan Thompson.
The injury bug has bitten Shaw in the past, and it’s been Thompson who has come in and not missed a beat. Thompson finished with 261 yards on Saturday in relief, but he also has a nice resume of being a prolific passer when called upon in the past. Thompson was forced into the starter’s role vs. Clemson last season, and all he did was throw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in the 10-point win for his second 300-yard game of the season.
To show that it wasn’t a fluke, he came in during crunch time in the Outback Bowl last season and delivered the game-winning 32-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds remaining in the game.
Having said that, the offense will look different without the dual-threat ability of Shaw as running back Brandon Wilds will also be out two weeks, but Thompson is an upgrade in terms of being a better pure passer. The wrinkle of Shaw running the option will be gone, but look for a more traditional run game with Mike Davis receiving more carries. Davis is having an exceptional year and had 167 and three touchdowns vs. UCF.
Furthermore, if there was ever a time to miss your starting quarterback, it would be when South Carolina has a home game vs. Kentucky and road dates at Arkansas and Tennessee on the schedule the next three weeks. Those should all be Gamecock wins, although the Arkansas game is not a gimme.
I expect Thompson to put up big numbers in each of these games. The experience he will get these next 2-3 weeks will advance his development when he is the permanent starter next season as a senior, and even later this year when Shaw gets back to and Thompson returns to a relief role.