South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw showed a tremendous amount of heart in South Carolina's 17-13 win over Vanderbilt in Nashville on Thursday night.
The junior signal-caller for the Gamecocks left the game late in the second quarter with a shoulder contusion, only to return midway through the third and lead his team to the win.
But he's going to need some help from the rest of his teammates if South Carolina is to contend for the SEC title, and he didn't get it on Thursday night. Particularly from the five guys up front.
South Carolina's offensive line was manhandled by Vandy's front seven in passing situations for the majority of the game, to a point where Shaw and backups Dylan Thompson and Seth Strickland were all looking at where the pressure was coming from rather than downfield.
That's not good news for any offense, and a dream scenario for defensive coordinators.
Shaw finished the night 7-of-11 for 67 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. The Gamecocks only allowed three sacks, but the trio of quarterbacks were harassed by the pass rush all night long.
That won't cut it in the SEC.
South Carolina is going to run the zone read with Shaw and star running back Marcus Lattimore—as it should. Because of that, Shaw is going to get knocked around a bit.
There's no way to avoid that.
With that being the case, he needs to avoid being hit in passing situations, and that didn't happen against Vanderbilt—a team that South Carolina outweighed up front by nearly 40 pounds.
That's not a good sign for South Carolina.
The Gamecocks have East Carolina and UAB the next two weeks, before returning to SEC action on Sept. 22 against Missouri.
Job No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 for head coach Steve Spurrier should be to fix the offensive line. If Shaw is going to take some hits on designed runs or options, he can't get knocked around in the passing game.
With Connor Shaw, South Carolina still is one of the favorites to win the SEC East. But if he gets knocked around like this all season, that moniker won't stick around for long.
Any road win in the SEC is a good win, and Spurrier now has a good gauge of what he needs to work on. Fixing the Gamecock pass-blocking should top that list.