Practice report: Thompson ready for start; Quarles, Patrick return

Special to The StateOctober 23, 2013 

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier expects to have quarterback Connor Shaw on the sideline Saturday against Missouri but doesn’t believe Shaw will be on the field.

Shaw was at practice on Wednesday afternoon but was not in pads and didn’t run. He threw some passes.

“Connor Shaw is going to be able to, maybe, back up Dylan Thompson this week,” Spurrier said Wednesday morning on the weekly SEC teleconference. “He’s not going to practice much this week.”

Shaw — who is 22-5 as South Carolina’s starting quarterback, two wins short of the Gamecocks career record — sustained a sprained knee last week in a 23-21 loss at Tennessee.

“He’s going to say he can play, but I feel like, let’s give Dylan a shot and see what happens,” Spurrier said. “I think it’s time we let Dylan see what he can do, and go from there. Dylan is ready. I don’t think Connor is going to be 100 percent, but he loves to play.”

Shaw is fourth in the SEC and 11th in the NCAA in passing efficiency this season. He is 92-of-145 for 1,307 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception. Thompson is 29-of-51 for 421 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Thompson has experience on the road in big-time environments. He started and played the entire game in a 27-17 victory at Clemson last season and played most of the Central Florida game this season when Shaw injured his shoulder.

“This is a great opportunity,” Thompson said. “Missouri is a great defense, really talented. We’re looking forward to the challenge. We have to take it as this is the biggest game we’ve played yet.”

Quarterback coach G.A. Mangus expects Thompson to finish the game but he never rules out the possibility of Shaw seeing the field. Third-team quarterback Brendan Nosovitch has been taking the second team reps in practice.

“Nothing surprises me with (Shaw),” Mangus said. “You never know. He gets better every day. He’s rehabbing every day and he’s good with all that stuff. We’ll see how the next couple of days go.”

Injury improvements

The Gamecocks got two starting linemen — one on defense and one on offense — back to practice Wednesday. Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and guard Ronald Patrick each participated.

Spurrier said on the teleconference that Quarles “could be available to play some.”

Patrick missed the Tennessee game with a sprained ankle and said he was back to about 80 percent. He tried to play in Knoxville but he couldn’t move well enough. He believes he will ready by Saturday.

“It really hurt not being able to help my teammates (last Saturday) but I’m ready to go,” Patrick said. “I practiced today, and I feel good.”

Safety Chaz Elder (concussion) practiced without contact on Wednesday. He said on Tuesday he expects to play this Saturday. Spur Larenz Bryant (undisclosed reason), defensive tackle Gerald Dixon Jr. (ankle), running back Brandon Wilds (dislocated elbow), and center Cody Waldrop (ankle) were in yellow jerseys as well.

Sack attack

Missouri leads the SEC with 23 sacks, with defensive end Michael Sam leading the league with nine sacks in seven games. Kony Ealy is second on the team with 3.5 sacks. The Tigers usually rely on their front four to get pressure on the quarterback.

“Their pass rush is probably the best we’ve seen all year,” Thompson said. “They have have great ends and tackles, and they trust their rush a lot, more than any other team.”

Patrick said Missouri does a good job with stunts and slants and is quick off the ball.

“We know they’re a good defensive team with a great defensive front,” Patrick said “They do a lot of things right. They slant and are quick off the ball, but we’re getting ready.”

He said it

“I’m not near the athlete Connor is. I might turn a 30-yard gain into a 15-yard gain but we’ll have the same game plan or something similar to it.” - Dylan Thompson

Staff writer Josh Kendall contributed to this report.

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