South Carolina's Connor Shaw Looks to Bounce Back Against Tennessee

Jacob ReynoldsContributor IIOctober 25, 2012

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 20:  Quarterback Connor Shaw #14 of the South Carolina Gamecocks throws the ball against the Florida Gators  at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on October 20, 2012 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

So now we know how Georgia fans must have felt after their visit to Williams-Brice this year.

After a thorough beatdown in ‘The Swamp’ last week, South Carolina fans are looking for answers and wondering what on earth went wrong against the Gators.

One of the more popular scapegoats, as has been the case all season, is quarterback Connor Shaw’s inconsistent play.

It’s a sentiment that the coaching staff seems to believe has some merit, judging by its decision to pull Shaw in favor of sophomore Dylan Thompson in the second half last week.

The results were not encouraging.

While Shaw has been struggling the past two weeks (28-of-54, 249 yards, two interceptions, one fumble lost), he still gives the Gamecocks their best chance to win going forward.

Head coach Steve Spurrier obviously feels the same, publicly stating Wednesday (via that Shaw will be in for the entire game this week.

It’s clear at this point that for Shaw to be effective through the air, he’s got to get it going on the ground.

Shaw is now 13-3 as a starter for the Gamecocks. In the 13 victories he helped orchestrate, Shaw has averaged over 50 yards rushing while completing 68 percent of his passes and accumulating 28 total touchdowns.

How did he do in the three losses? Averaged less than a yard rushing while completing just more than half of his passes (55 percent) and totaling four touchdowns in those games.

Shaw, unlike many quarterbacks, seems to find his rhythm in the passing game by effectively running the ball.

Give Spurrier credit for sticking with a run-first quarterback and tapering his game plan to suit the team's strengths.

It’s no secret that the Ole Ball Coach prefers to have his quarterback's first priority be throwing it around the field, which likely explains why he did not hesitate putting in Dylan Thompson when it was clear Shaw was not getting it done with his arms or his legs.

The truth is Dylan Thompson is not an upgrade over Shaw.

In relief of Shaw last week against the Gators, Thompson completed only 8-of-20 pass attempts for 83 yards and a pick.

While fans get excited with Thompson’s big arm and the success he had against subpar defenses, the fact remains he struggles with intermediate routes and does not come close to Shaw’s scrambling ability.

Bottom line here is that the Gamecocks have to find ways for Shaw to get his numbers on the ground if they want to be productive with the pass.

Simple in theory, but when you play top-level defenses in the SEC (Florida & LSU for example), those cutesy little QB scrambles just don’t cut it.

Luckily for Shaw and the Gamecock faithful, they get a chance to right the ship against the SEC’s worst defense when they welcome the Tennessee Volunteers to Columbia this weekend.