South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier liked what he saw from his quarterbacks in the Gamecocks’ first practice of the spring on Tuesday.
Of course, one of the main guys wasn’t out there. Senior Connor Shaw, who started all but two games last season, is still recovering from offseason foot surgery.
Junior Dylan Thompson is working with the first team this spring, although that’s nothing new for him. He led the Gamecocks to a 27-17 win over Clemson last season with 310 yards passing and three touchdowns and also threw the game-winning touchdown pass against Michigan in the bowl game after filling in for the injured Shaw.
Spurrier praised all of his quarterbacks Tuesday, including the three newcomers -- true freshman Connor Mitch, redshirt freshman Brendan Nosovitch and redshirt freshman walk-on Perry Orth.
"It's neat when you've got players who love playing football and love practicing and love trying to learn all they can about their position," Spurrier said. "That's what we've got here with all these quarterbacks."
Everybody always wants to know who the starting quarterback is going to be, and that's a question that will linger at South Carolina on into preseason camp.
If Shaw comes back healthy, my sense is that he will keep the starting job. He's been a warrior for the Gamecocks and has a toughness and confidence about him that's infectious.
But anybody who knows Spurrier knows he's not the least bit bothered by playing two quarterbacks, and he told me a few weeks ago that's what he thinks will probably happen in 2013. Not only does he think he can win with both Shaw and Thompson, but they're two different types of quarterbacks and complement each other well.
"I really think both of them deserve to play," Spurrier said. "I know you can’t just say, ‘Well, we’re going to play both quarterbacks this game.’ But it worked out in the bowl game. Dylan is going to play. He helped us beat Clemson, and Connor was healthy for the bowl game and re-hurt his foot. They both played well in that game and had a lot of good plays.
"They’re both very unselfish young men. It could easily be that they both play throughout the year some way or the other."
In other words, the Head Ball Coach isn't hung up on who takes the first snap against North Carolina on Aug. 29. What he is hung up on is who plays the best, and here's betting that both Shaw and Thompson once again play well enough next season to contribute to key wins.