The 2013 South Carolina Gamecocks are like a woman with a Coke-bottle body–and a face only a mother could love from the neck up. They look good from afar, but far from good once you take a peek at the Medusas under center. All eyes were on the Gamecocks as they opened the college football season on Thursday night.
Ever since “The Hit” against Michigan in The Outback Bowl Jadeveon Clowney, the quarterback sack prince, has been spun into a tall tale told from coast to coast. What’s been forgotten is that it was South Carolina’s backup Dylan Thompson who led the final game-winning drive after Connor Shaw was injured.
Since then, there have been a growing segment of South Carolina fans who are of the opinion that Thompson may be the answer to the Gamecocks woeful passing offense.
The first drive of the season against UNC ended with Shaq Roland hauling in a 65-yard bomb from Shaw and seemed to put those concerns about a quarterback controversy out of their misery. Then, in the final minute of the first quarter, Thompson aired his only pass of the game for a 29-yard touchdown.
As much promise as sophomore Mike Davis flashed during a 75-yard touchdown dash, the offense’s potential is tempered by the inconsistency of Shaw. The Ol' Ball Coach used to count on his quarterbacks raining touchdowns from above during his reign with the Gators. Maybe the hour-long rain delay against UNC was a sign. Based on Thursday night’s showing, it appears Spurrier's quarterback drought will continue for another season. South Carolina’s offense pecked at UNC, but Shaw’s 11-for-20, 149-yard performance was a reminder that much hasn't changed from 2012.
Their offense kept them from getting over the hump last season. If this South Carolina team is going to build on their annual preseason hype and truly contend for an SEC title in December, they’ll need more production from Shaw in a league that’s still driven by defense, but now with Heisman caliber quarterbacks riding shotgun. Lost in the jubilation over South Carolina's 1-0 start is the sobering reality that Shaw is still a pedestrian starter.
The Gamecocks don’t have long to decide. Next week, they travel between the hedges to Sanford Stadium where prolific quarterbacks have become the norm. Don’t be surprised to see folks clamoring for Thompson once they lean in and lay their eyes on Shaw against the Bulldogs.