COLUMBIA — South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw will spend a couple days in a walking boot to start this week as he continues to nurse a foot sprain, though coach Steve Spurrier expects him to begin practicing Tuesday or Wednesday and said there is no way he will have Shaw resting on the bench during Saturday’s game against Wofford.
It is one the Gamecocks could likely win without him, though Wofford’s option offense is tricky. Still, Spurrier won’t take any chances as his team approaches last season’s program-best 11-2 record, with the Gamecocks needing to win their final three games, including a bowl game, to achieve.
Many observers’ eyes this week will peek ahead to the Thanksgiving weekend rivalry game at Clemson. It will be one of the most anticipated games in the series’ history, as the Tigers are ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press poll, one spot ahead of USC. It could very well pit 10-1 Clemson against 9-2 USC. But Spurrier doesn’t expect any peeking eyes in his locker room.
“I don’t think so, with everything that’s on the line,” he said.
USC has finished undefeated and untied at home nine times, most recently in 1987. Win Saturday, and the Gamecocks will be 7-0 this season – a feat they also accomplished in 1979, 1980, 1984 and 1987.
Standing in their way is Wofford, which is 8-2 and has clinched a share of the Southern Conference title. Its offense is not especially pleasant for defensive linemen to play against.
“I hate that, because all they do is come off the ball and cut (block) me,” said USC end Jadeveon Clowney.
At least he won’t have to worry about being held on the pass rush as opponents try to limit his effectiveness.
“I get frustrated all the time, but I know that’s a call they’re not even going to call anymore in this league,” he said. “They don’t even call holding. It’s got to be real clear, tackle you down to the ground for an official to call a hold. I get frustrated, but I try to keep my cool out there on the field.”
Such is life for an elite defensive end such as Clowney, who ranks eighth nationally with 9½ sacks.
While the Gamecocks can have few complaints about how their season has unfolded, Spurrier is looking for more from his running game. USC lost tailback Marcus Lattimore to a devastating right knee injury Oct. 27 against Tennessee. USC’s next game was last Saturday’s 38-20 win over Arkansas, in which the Gamecocks ran for 2.5 yards per carry.
“We didn’t run the ball very well,” Spurrier said. “We had a few good ones here and there.”
Said Kenny Miles, Lattimore’s primary replacement, who had 14 carries for 37 yards against Arkansas: “There were a few plays that I felt like I could have broken, but I got tripped. I feel like I could have done a lot better.”