For most teams, losing a starting quarterback would be a big blow to the season. Most backups don’t play regularly, and teams tend to struggle when turning to the second-string signal caller.
However, that’s not necessarily the case for the South Carolina Gamecocks. When starting quarterback Connor Shaw went down on Saturday with a shoulder injury, there was concern for Shaw, but not for the team. Backup quarterback Dylan Thompson is an experienced player, so head coach Steve Spurrier had no concerns when Thompson entered the game.
Last season, Thompson played in 11 of the Gamecocks’ 13 games, and he completed 66-of-27 through the air for 1,027 yards, with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 108 yards and a score.
This season, Thompson has thrown for 365 yards in three games, with most of that production (261 yards) coming in Saturday’s win over Central Florida. He appears to be the starter for now, although Shaw has made great strides in recovery this week.
The notable change for South Carolina is that Thompson is more of a pure passer than Shaw, and not as good of a runner. However, the ironic thing that happened on Saturday was that the running game, specifically running back Mike Davis, was much more effective in the second half. That formula will probably remain the same this week. Although at some point, Spurrier is going to want to put the ball in the air more effectively.
There are two bits of good news for South Carolina in this situation. First, they host the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, so they should be able to experiment with different elements on offense and still win the game. Secondly, Shaw is expected to miss only 2-to-4 weeks of action, so he should be able to return before the Gamecocks play any ranked opponents.
For now, it’s Thompson’s team and Spurrier appears to be just fine with that.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher, on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.