Offseason spotlight: South Carolina

Connor Shaw's replacement now has to deal with being the guy in Columbia:

Spotlight: Quarterback Dylan Thompson, 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, senior

2013 summary: Serving as Shaw's backup last season, Thompson threw for 783 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions on 52-of-89 passing. He started the win at Missouri in 2013, but was replaced by Shaw in the fourth quarter. Thompson also netted 27 rushing yards and had three more scores on the ground.

The skinny: Now that the titanium-built Shaw is gone, Thompson is officially the guy at quarterback. He has started three games in his career (3-0) and performed very well when replacing Shaw because of injuries. While he didn't look as sharp in 2013 as he did in 2012, Thompson has the arm strength and accuracy to be a quality starting quarterback in the SEC. Fans have gone back and forth in the past about who would better lead the Gamecocks, and now they'll get to see just what Thompson can do when coach Steve Spurrier gives him the keys to the Gamecocks' offense full time. Thompson might be a better pure passer than Shaw, but does he have the intangibles that made Shaw such a special player? Can he take the hits that Shaw took and still be able to play? Can he overcome pain and lead the Gamecocks to wins in the process? Thompson certainly doesn't have to be Shaw, and one thing that will prevent him from having to prove if he can run through walls like Shaw did is that he doesn't run the ball a lot. Thompson ran the ball just 50 times in the past two seasons compared to the 285 times Shaw ran. What he has to show is that he can consistently lead the team. In his two starts in 2012, he threw for more than 300 yards and had three touchdowns. He also threw for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the bowl win over Michigan, including the 32-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington with 11 seconds remaining. He finished that season with 1,027 yards and 10 touchdowns with two interceptions. With redshirt freshman Connor Mitch around, Thompson will likely have some nice competition for the starting job. It worked out perfectly for the Gamecocks and Thompson in the past, and we all know that Spurrier won't hesitate to rotate his quarterbacks in and out.

Past spotlights: