The South Carolina Gamecocks football team has a quarterback battle brewing as spring practices draw near. Both Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson have the talent to be starters and will put forth their best efforts fighting for the starting job.
The Gamecocks will benefit from the competition, as Shaw and Thompson will be heavily motivated to prove they are worthy of calling the shots.
Both players have strong cases to be made for serving as the team's starting quarterback.
Shaw took over for Stephen Garcia midway through the 2011 season and has been the starter ever since. He nearly reached 2,000 yards passing in 2012, posting a QB rating of over 158.
However, Shaw faced injuries last season, leaving him sidelined for two games. In January, he underwent surgery on his left foot, an operation that will force him to miss spring practices.
Thompson showed plenty of promise during his time filling in for the injured Shaw. He combined for six passing touchdowns in his two starts, topping 300 yards through the air both times.
With Shaw still recovering, Thompson will have an ideal opportunity to showcase his skills and leadership ability during spring practices and in the annual Garnet and Black Spring Game.
It will be tough for Shaw to sit and watch Thompson run the Gamecock offense. However, recovering is the best thing that he can do after fighting through a rough, physical season in the SEC.
He will return to the Gamecocks fresh and ready to go. When he returns, Shaw will need to be prepared to compete.
In the team's final regular season game, a 27-17 victory over the Clemson Tigers, Thompson played very well.
He threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Surprisingly, Thompson also ran the ball 14 times for 38 yards.
Interestingly enough, SC's top wide receiver Bruce Ellington had his best game with Thompson under center.
In the win over Clemson, Ellington caught a career-high seven passes. He also collected 72 yards receiving and his two touchdown receptions were the most in his career at South Carolina.
Though he is an excellent passer, Thompson is not a running quarterback. In that facet, Shaw, who carried the ball at least eight times in all but one game last season, clearly has the edge.
Last season, Shaw finished No. 2 on the team in rushing, compiling 435 yards on the ground, including 195 in a three-game stretch.
In the end, Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks' staff must be happy that they have two strong candidates for starting quarterback.
This could allow them to use both studs, mixing up the offensive packages. With two legitimate threats at quarterback and a bevy of athletic running backs, the Gamecocks could be very creative with their offensive sets.
The Gamecocks will be a strong squad, regardless of whether Shaw or Thompson is at helm. This competitive battle will only make South Carolina even better.