Connor Shaw looks for signature win in his first start in Georgia

jkendall@thestate.comSeptember 6, 2013 

Connor Shaw

TRACY GLANTZ — tglantz@thestate.com

  • ON THE ROAD AGAIN

    Senior quarterback Connor Shaw is 18-3 as a starter, with the three losses against Top 10 teams on the road. No. 6 South Carolina visits No. 11 Georgia on Saturday. A look at his statistics in those three losses.

    Nov. 5, 2011 at No. 8 Arkansas: 16-of-25, 128 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 24 yards rushing (2 TDs)

    Oct. 13, 2012 at No. 9 LSU: 19-of-34, 177 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, minus-1 yard rushing (0 TDs)

    Oct. 20, 2012 at No. 3 Florida: 9-of-20, 72 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, minus-2 yards rushing (0 TDs)

    Totals: 44-of-79, 377 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 21 yards rushing (2 TDs) (2 fumbles lost)

  • Shaw by the numbers

    A look at Connor Shaw’s record at USC

    ... 18-3 ... Shaw’s record as the Gamecocks starter, an .857 winning percentage. He is 11-0 at home and 7-3 on the road.

    ... 2 ... Players in USC history (Shaw and Jeff Grantz) who have passed for more than 3,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,000.

    ... .663 ... Shaw’s completion percentage, best in school history. (311-of-469 passes). Blake Mitchell is second at .607.

    ... 33 ... Shaw’s TD passes, seventh on the Gamecocks’ all-time list. Steve Taneyhill leads with 62.

  • GAMECOCKS VS. BULLDOGS

    When: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

    Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.

    TV: ESPN

    Radio: WNKT FM 107.5 in the Midlands. In Athens, the in-stadium frequencies for the WNKT broadcast are 93.3 FM (primary) & 98.9 FM (backup).

    Satellite Radio: Sirius 86/XM 86

    Line: Georgia by 3

    THREE IN A ROW

    USC has beaten Georgia three consecutive years for the first time in the history of the series that dates back to 1894. The Gamecocks try to make it four straight on Saturday.

    2012: USC 35, Georgia 7

    2011: USC 45, Georgia 42

    2010: USC 17, Georgia 6

Reading this on a mobile device? Here is a mobile-friendly USC depth chart. Here is a mobile-friendly USC roster.

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw will make his 22nd career start at quarterback on Saturday and his first in his home state of Georgia. Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier hopes the emotion of the moment won’t distract Shaw from his task.

Spurrier has nothing to worry about, Shaw’s father says.

“If this was his first rodeo, which it ain’t, it might give him big eyes,” said Lee Shaw, a longtime high school coach in Georgia, “but it’s pretty much all business for him.”

That’s good news, according to Spurrier, who thinks emotion can be the enemy of a quarterback.

“Quarterbacks have to think, they have to make quick decisions and so forth, so hopefully concentrating on what he needs to do will be what he takes his focus into the game, the decisions he has to make,” Spurrier said. “Obviously, anyone who goes back to their home state to play, there’s an extra-specialness to that.”

Connor Shaw, a senior who grew up in Flowery Branch, Ga., 45 minutes northeast of Atlanta, echoes his father’s sentiment.

“I am not going to make the game bigger than it is,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting for us, but we’re not going to make it any bigger than it is. It’s a game on the road, and that’s how we’re going to take it.”

While the specific location of the game is not an issue for Shaw, the fact that it’s away from Williams-Brice Stadium is important to him, he said. Shaw is South Carolina’s winningest all-time quarterback by percentage (85.7 percent). His 18-3 record leaves him six victories shy of tying Todd Ellis for most wins. (The Gamecocks’ records on quarterback victories date to 1971.)

It’s the last number in that record that is meaningful this week. The three losses have come on the road against Top 10 teams (No. 8 Arkansas in 2011, No. 9 LSU in 2012, No. 3 Florida in 2012). The Bulldogs, who dropped from No. 5 to No. 11 after losing to Clemson, don’t quite fit into that formula, but beating them would prove something, Shaw believes.

“I have to play better on the road, I know that,” he said.

In the three losses, Shaw has completed 56 percent of his passes and averaged 125.7 passing yards per game, while totaling four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) and five turnovers (three interceptions, two fumbles).

“It’s easy to play at home and have your crowd behind you, and it’s hard to go on the road, especially the places that we played last year,” he said. “We’ve got to go with a different mentality and a confidence level playing on the road this year.”

Lee Shaw and Connor’s mother, Dawn, will be at Saturday’s game. They normally are treated better in Athens than at other road venues because of Connor’s connection to the state, Lee Shaw said.

“What we get more than anything and it’s a nice thing, a lot of people will say, ‘I have been a diehard Bulldog for x number of years, and I am pulling for the Gamecocks because of Connor. They always end with this, ‘I am pulling for Connor all the time except for one Saturday,’ ” Lee Shaw said. “We all know when the game kicks off and that ball is in the air, it’s on and it doesn’t matter who you are.”

QUOTABLE

“When you go on the road it’s kind of a business trip, and you need to count on your leaders and your veteran guys to set the tone. He’s at that point in his career where he is ready to take that next step I would think, and he has a great opportunity.” – ESPN game analyst Todd Blackledge, who will work today’s game, on Shaw

“I haven’t lost to Georgia and it would be something special for our seniors to go out 4-0 against them. It’s a great rivalry. It’s really intense.” – Connor Shaw

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