South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier was lucky to escape with a season opening win on the road against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Thursday night. But while his Gamecocks won the game to pick up an all important SEC road victory, Spurrier knows that he and the Gamecocks are in trouble if starting quarterback Connor Shaw is unable to play after suffering a shoulder injury in the 17-13 win.
Shaw was injured when he took a helmet to his right shoulder on Thursday night and was diagnosed with a deep bone bruise. The good news is that there was no structural damage. The bad news is that Shaw will miss the next few days of practice, and Spurrier is not exactly sure whether or not Shaw will be able to start Saturday’s home opener against the East Carolina Pirates.
“It’s wait and see right now,” Spurrier said Sunday.
That is not good news for South Carolina, who severely struggled to move the ball without Shaw when he was sidelined on Thursday. The offense went stagnant when he was out, and Dylan Thompson will not have enough time to learn the offense if he is pressed into an emergency start.
But as things look right now, that is a distinct possibility.
“It’s just painful for him [Shaw],” Spurrier said. “And he has trouble lifting his arm right now so it’s pretty hard to play quarterback.”
Spurrier added that Shaw ”won’t play if he’s not healthy,” meaning he will have to feel and look much better from a physical standpoint than he did toward the end of the Gamecocks win over Vandy. He was noticeably sore throughout the second half, even though he was able to lead his team to victory.
If Shaw is out, or even if he is limited, expect a much heavier dose of star running back Marcus Lattimore. His surgically repaired left knee appeared to hold up well after week 1, with the preseason Heisman candidate rushing 23 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, it was surprising that Lattimore’s number was not called more often last week, considering Shaw’s injury and the rest of the offense’s ineptness at times, but it seems as if Spurrier will not push Lattimore too much during the first two or three games.
He probably did not want Lattimore to even carry the ball 23 times the first game, but knew that he had to lean on him a little bit down the stretch in order to run out the clock and help secure the victory.
And if Shaw is out and Lattimore feels fine heading into Saturday’s game against the Pirates, expect him to receive closer to 25 carries in an extended workload.
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