Limping in the East: Shaw looks doubtful for Missouri game

dcloninger@thestate.comOctober 20, 2013 

It doesn’t seem likely that South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw will be ready to play against No. 5 Missouri on Saturday, but the senior has made fast recoveries before.

Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier reiterated on Sunday what was reported late Saturday night — Shaw is hurt but it’s not as serious as it could have been.

“Injury-wise, Connor Shaw is actually walking around a little bit,” Spurrier said on his Sunday teleconference. “They’re calling it a knee sprain. No surgery or anything. I’m not sure what his status will be later in the week. He’s obviously not practicing the first two, three days.

“I would think he would be able to come back. I’m sort of doubtful he’ll be ready to do much this week. We’ll know a lot more about his situation Wednesday or Thursday.”

Shaw was hurt in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 23-21 loss to Tennessee, and USC fans feared the worst as players consoled Shaw on the sideline as he stood on crutches with a wrap around his leg. But an MRI showed no damaged ligaments, which was announced by ESPN and confirmed to The State via text message from Shaw’s father.

Shaw was injured against Central Florida, and Spurrier said the next day that Shaw would be out for the next game against Kentucky. Instead, Shaw threw the ball around Monday, practiced Tuesday and started against the Wildcats.

Spurrier didn’t sound as optimistic for Shaw and the Missouri game.

Backup Dylan Thompson is slated to start with Brendan Nosovitch as his backup. Freshman Pharoh Cooper, who has had recent success in the Wildcat package, also could play under center.

The Tigers (7-0, 3-0 SEC) can take control of the SEC East with a win Saturday. After finishing 5-7 a year ago, Missouri has vaulted to the top of the standings.

The Gamecocks (5-2, 3-2) could have made their position more firm with a win against the Volunteers, especially when Florida and Georgia each lost Saturday. But USC’s offense bogged down in the fourth quarter, and a stunning catch from Vols receiver Marquez North made the difference.

Spurrier said he replayed the game in his head Saturday night and claimed he got little sleep. His strategy of passing the ball instead of trying to run clock with SEC leading rusher Mike Davis, then electing to punt after two straight timeouts, drew questions afterward.

“You always wonder, why did you call this play or that play or just one play here or there, when you lose a game like this,” Spurrier said. “I saw the coverage and the throws from earlier, and the ball didn’t come out, let’s just put it that way. I still think that was the right thing to do, to punt it. If it had been fourth-and-1, we’d probably have gone for it. But hindsight’s always 20-20.”

The offense struggled for most of the first half as well as throws were dropped, fumbles were lost and a questionable call went against the Gamecocks on a fumble recovery. The defense yielded some big plays but had plenty of stops until North’s catch.

That led to the game-winning field goal, a loss of position in the East and plenty of questions. Now USC must finish a three-game road swing at the hottest team in the league.

“Nobody saw this team coming. They haven’t been winning by any fluky means,” Spurrier said. “We need to play smart, disciplined football against Missouri. That’s the only thing we need to worry about really.”

Injury report

Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles has a knee sprain and is “iffy” for Mizzou. Defensive tackle Gerald Dixon Jr. sprained an ankle and is questionable. Right guard Ronald Patrick, who missed the Tennessee game with a sprained ankle, hopes to be available.

Center Cody Waldrop continues to fight a sprained ankle and likely is out for Mizzou. Tailback Brandon Wilds is out as he continues to recover from a dislocated elbow. Safety Chaz Elder, who missed the Tennessee game with a concussion, is questionable.

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