Is Steve Spurrier to Blame for Connor Shaw's Injury Problems?
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw has proven throughout his career that he's a winner, compiling a 22-5 record as a starter.
Unfortunately for Shaw, his Gamecocks career has also been littered with injuries.
Shaw's status for this weekend's showdown versus Missouri is in doubt, after the senior from Flowery Branch, Ga. suffered a knee sprain in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 23-21 loss to Tennessee in Knoxville, according to Chip Patterson of CBSSports.com.
It's the latest on a list of injuries that have kept Shaw out of action, including a shoulder injury suffered versus UCF earlier this season, a foot injury that kept him out of last year's rivalry game with Clemson and a shoulder injury suffered in last season's opener at Vanderbilt.
Shaw isn't soft.
He plays the game the way it should be played, fights for the extra yard and puts himself in harm's way even when giving himself up and sliding to the turf is the more responsible option.
Head coach Steve Spurrier's offense has evolved into a more ground-and-pound approach, which is a departure from the fun-'n-gun style that he became known for when he was the head coach at Florida from 1990-2001.
While his style with the Gamecocks is different from his days with the Gators, it isn't much different than it was when South Carolina won the SEC East title in 2010.
In 502 South Carolina plays this season, Shaw has thrown a pass or taken off on the ground on 238 of them (47.4 percent). That's consistent with how involved quarterback Stephen Garcia was in 2010, when he ran or passed on 454 of 911 plays (49.8 percent).
Teams with dual-threat quarterbacks run this risk, especially when that quarterback is as hard-nosed as Shaw is.
Not all of Shaw's injuries are a direct result of his dual-threat capabilities, though.
The injury he suffered on Saturday against the Vols was just bad luck. Shaw thought pressure was coming—due in part to feeling it all day, he tried to avoid it and got "high-lowed" by two Vols as he tried to get out of the pocket.
It was unfortunate, but it was neither a product of play-calling nor Shaw's style.
If you're South Carolina, you want Shaw to be himself. He's averaging 4.27 yards per carry, and 25 of his runs have gone for first downs. Yeah, he gets put in harm's way at times, but that's part of what makes him so successful as a quarterback.
He hasn't practiced this week and is wearing a knee brace, so his status for Saturday is very questionable.
Hopefully he gets back on the field soon, because if South Carolina can trip up Missouri this weekend, its SEC East title hopes would remain intact.
Shaw is a big part of that championship equation.
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