Welcome to the 2012 season, Connor Shaw.
In the season opener versus Vanderbilt, the junior signal-caller for the South Carolina Gamecocks hurt his shoulder in an injury that has prevented him from playing at 100 percent for the season's first three games.
That shoulder didn't seem to be an issue vs. Missouri.
Shaw completed 20-of-21 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns, adding 41 rushing yards. He completed his final 20 passes of the game.
Granted, Missouri's defense won't be setting any records, but it does beg the question: Is Connor Shaw the most underrated quarterback in the SEC?
It certainly appears that way.
Shaw has the stigma of being more of a runner than a passer, but he came out firing, completing 14-of-15 passes for 170 yards and one touchdown in the first half—with a fracture in the shoulder blade of his throwing arm.
Quietly, he finished strong at the end of last season, throwing for an average of 219 yards and rushing for 80 yards per game over the last three games. He was seemingly written off at the start of this season, due in large part to the injury and the fact that it was really the only time this season that South Carolina has played on a big stage.
Saturday afternoon in Columbia, SC, he announced his presence with authority.
Tyler Wilson, Aaron Murray, A.J. McCarron and Tyler Bray gobbled up most of the headlines, but Shaw's performance on Saturday proved that he is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the SEC.
We already know that he's tough, but he made smart decisions and connected on several NFL-caliber throws in the win over the Tigers, including a brilliant touchdown to Ace Sanders to close out the first half.
Is Shaw going to be the headliner of this Gamecocks team? No.
That responsibility falls on running back Marcus Lattimore's shoulders. But Shaw is a leader, talented and smart, and he proved all three in the win over the Tigers.
If the SEC hasn't taken notice before, it should now.
Shaw is a legitimate dual-threat weapon for the Gamecocks.
If he keeps this up, he and his team will be playing in the Georgia Dome during the first weekend of December.
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