Examining Dylan Thompson's Performance vs. UCF After Connor Shaw Injury

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIISeptember 28, 2013

ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Dylan Thompson #17 of the South Carolina Gamecocks drops back to pass against the Central Florida Knights during a game at Bright House Networks Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks survived a scare and held on to defeat the UCF Knights 28-25 on the road. Unfortunately, South Carolina did suffer a loss when starting quarterback Connor Shaw went down with a shoulder injury.

With Shaw on the sidelines, Dylan Thompson took over the offense lead the comeback bid. Here's how he performed.

Shaw suffered the injury at the 6:34 mark of the first quarter after scrambling for four yards, fumbling the ball and landing awkwardly on his shoulder. It was a sight that South Carolina fans have grown far too accustomed to seeing, with Shaw battling injuries throughout his collegiate career.

Shaw has now been confirmed as out for the rest of the game.

Thompson, next on the depth chart, stepped in for the Gamecocks offense.

Shaw and Thompson were involved in a position battle prior to the 2013 college football season, which has some fans comfortable with this switch. Shaw is a dual-threat player who is respected for his leadership ability, while Thompson has a cannon for an arm and is the better deep-ball passer.

Thompson finished the game against UCF at 15-of-32 for 261 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and one rushing touchdown. It's safe to say it wasn't flawless.


First Half

During the first half, Thompson was 9-of-21 for 115 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He ran the ball once for negative-four yards after Shaw had carried it four times for 30 yards prior to his injury exit.

Thompson's performance started ugly, but on the final drive of the first half, he began to show signs of life.

Thompson was visibly rattled by the deafening crowd at BH Networks Stadium in Orlando, Florida. He made a number of inaccurate throws and had trouble reading the defense, throwing into coverage and tending to ignore his checkdown options.

On the rare occasion that Thompson made an accurate throw, such as the dart he threw to Nick Jones, the receivers failed to catch it.

During the final minute of the game, however, Thompson led a strong drive after South Carolina's defense secured an interception. Thompson made a series of accurate passes, but did botch a snap and missed a wide open player for an easy touchdown.

On the following play, the offensive line committed a 15-yard penalty as Thompson threw an inaccurate sideline throw. Thompson didn't do South Carolina any favors by going for a Hail Mary when the Gamecocks needed a short throw to enter field goal range.

In the end, Thompson threw a half-ending interception and South Carolina was shut out during the first half.


Second Half

With his team trailing 10-0 and the Gamecocks in dire need of a comeback effort, Thompson managed to step up in the third quarter. He finally settled down, leading three scoring drives in a matter of 15 minutes.

It certainly doesn't hurt that Mike Davis is the player who Thompson was handling the ball off to, but the backup quarterback was strong in his own right.

He completed 5-of-9 passes during the third quarter and the first minute of the fourth, also running for a two-yard score. He made accurate throws down field and had no trouble finding his players once they found separation.

It was an encouraging third quarter of play for Thompson, who had been looking like a fish out of water. After helping South Carolina jump out to a 21-10 lead, Thompson effectively overcame a disappointing first half performance.

During the fourth quarter, Thompson played it safe and helped the Gamecocks to hold on for the win. He bobbled a snap and nearly fumbled a routine hand-off, but did complete a 44-yard pass to Jerell Adams on a rare late-game pass attempt.

All in all, it wasn't perfect, but Thompson played his part and helped South Carolina avoid disaster.