Published September 9, 2012 - 3:45pm
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South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier always tries to “throw it around a little bit” on Saturday afternoons, even with an established running game under Marcus Lattimore. The Head Ball Coach likes to see his quarterback and wide receivers make plays, something that was commonplace during his days at Florida.
In the Gamecocks’ home opener against East Carolina, there was too many to count and second team quarterback Dylan Thompson had a start to remember.
Thompson threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns to steal the show and lift the Gamecocks to a 48-10 victory. It was a far cry offensively from what ninth-ranked South Carolina looked like on that side of the ball at Vanderbilt in the season opener — seven completed passes (only three to wide receivers), an interception and no touchdowns.
Seldom-used third-stringer Seth Strickland completed a 51-yard touchdown in final seconds and even Ace Sanders got into the act on a trick play early in the second half. In total, South Carolina picked up 528 yards with 397 coming through the air.
“Probably today the ball was in the air more distance than any game I’ve coached here,” Spurrier said.
Let this be known, however, to viewers and the SEC’s Network in-game announcers: There’s no quarterback controversy in Columbia and Spurrier quickly let that be known shortly after the game.
“If Connor (Shaw) is 100 percent, he’s our guy,” Spurrier said. “Now we know if something happens to Connor, Dylan can go in there.”
If Shaw’s shoulder is ready to go in practice this week, Spurrier says he’ll start this weekend’s game against UAB. He threw a few short passes in warm-ups Saturday and was one of the team’s best cheerleaders on the sideline. Should Shaw’s discomfort continue from the deep bone bruise, Thompson has established himself into a viable option with an ability to challenge a secondary down the field and make accurate throws on the run.
“I’m just the backup quarterback. My role is to be ready when I am called,” Thompson said.
South Carolina’s offense was so well-oiled Saturday, Lattimore barely broke a sweat on a sweltering day that saw a few thousand fans — including most of the students — leave during the third quarter. Lattimore’s first-quarter touchdown was his 33rd career score, tying him for the school record with Heisman winner George Rogers and Harold Green. He only carried the ball 12 more times for 34 yards the rest of the way, letting his quarterback do the heavy lifting.
Eleven different receivers caught passes and the Gamecocks had four completions span at least 25 yards. Thompson said he felt more comfortable at the friendly confines of Williams-Brice and shook off last week’s 0-for-3 effort in Nashville.
With his 199th career win, Spurrier moved to 45-0 all-time against non-automatic qualifier opponents.