Thirteenth-ranked South Carolina had a backup plan this season. While it might not be desirable, it’s not a problem to have to use it.
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier updated Connor Shaw’s shoulder injury during his weekly teleconference Sunday, saying that the senior has a sprain and that the medical staff has ruled it a two-to-three-week injury. Spurrier said Shaw wants to go in two weeks (USC’s Oct. 12 game at Arkansas), but he is definitely out for Saturday’s game hosting Kentucky.
USC would love to have its starting quarterback available, but the Gamecocks (3-1, 1-1 SEC) have no problem turning the ball over to Dylan Thompson, who fought through struggles in a 28-25 victory against Central Florida.
Historically, Thompson has played better when he knows he’s going to start. That was the case last year against East Carolina and again against Clemson. But he’s also practiced every week as if he was going to play.
“Last two games, we told him he’s going in there somewhere in the first half, which he did,” Spurrier said. “He prepares every week as if he’s going to play a lot. Whether or not he plays better when he knows he’s starting, I don’t know. Let’s hope so, because he’s starting this week. He may need to play very well for us to beat Kentucky.”
Shaw should be able to return, which is why Spurrier didn’t know specifics on if and when a medical redshirt could be applied for if there was a need. The rule is that a medical redshirt can be awarded if a player suffers a season-ending injury at no more than the 30 percent mark of the season (bowl games do not count, but conference championship games do, so the season is 13 games). Right now, Shaw has played in four of 13, or 30.76 percent.
Spurrier thought it was a moot point since Shaw should return. He also knows Shaw will push as hard as he can to get back on the field.
“I think he’ll be back in two-to-three weeks,” Spurrier said. “He thinks he can be back in two weeks. We’ll just have to see how it goes.”
Thompson might be taking snaps from a different center — Cody Waldrop sprained his ankle but may be able to play — and he definitely will have another tailback to hand off to.
Brandon Wilds is out three-to-four weeks with a dislocated elbow, an injury USC has already experienced twice this season (to linebackers Cedrick Cooper and Kyle Morini). That takes away one of USC’s most experienced tailback and prompted a potential promotion.
“Good chance we may bring David Williams onto the varsity and let he and Shon (Carson) sort of get ready to play along with Mike Davis,” Spurrier said.
Carson will be behind Davis, but Carson had one carry for 0 yards against UCF.
Williams, a four-star freshman tailback from Philadelphia, was going to redshirt because of the Gamecocks’ deep pool of tailbacks, but fellow freshman Jamari Smith switched to defense before Wilds was hurt. The only other tailbacks are Kendric Salley, who Spurrier said was behind Williams, and walk-on Devin Potter.
Brendan Nosovitch and Perry Orth will be behind Thompson at quarterback.
Shaq Roland remains suspended, and Spurrier did not know if he would be cleared to play against the Wildcats.
“I’ll let you know later in the week,” Spurrier said.
Roland was left off the UCF trip due to a violation of university policy. Spurrier said Saturday that it had nothing to do with drugs, and on Sunday, Spurrier said it had nothing to do with an arrest, a social media violation or misbehavior in class.
“It’s a university policy, that somehow or another, he was in violation,” Spurrier said. “That’s about all I should say, I guess.”
Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState