Notebook: USC's QB questions

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw (14) is sacked by Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette during the fourth quarter in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday. Shaw suffered a concussion in the game. (The Associated Press)

Published: Monday, November 7, 2011 at 11:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 at 11:37 p.m.

Florida knows a thing or two about quarterback turmoil this season. So does Saturday's opponent, South Carolina.

The Gamecocks may be looking at playing their third starting quarterback this season.

First up was senior Stephen Garcia, who was dismissed in October after several suspensions and issues with alcohol consumption throughout his turbulent career.

Next was sophomore Connor Shaw, who sustained a concussion in last week's game against Arkansas.

“We've had a few injuries, but I've never really liked to talk about it that much,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday in his weekly conference call. “That's a part of football. The next guy's got to go play.”

If Shaw is unable to play against Florida, Spurrier said the next guy would be redshirt freshman Dylan Thompson, who has played very little this season. Thompson played one series at the end of a blowout win against Kentucky, tossing two passes for 17 yards and running for an 8-yard touchdown.

Spurrier said redshirt freshman wide receiver Bruce Ellington, also the Gamecocks' starting point guard and a quarterback in high school, will also see some time in practice at QB. Ellington has had some success running the wildcat formation this season with 13 rushes for 102 yards (a 7.8-yard average) and 2-of-3 passing for 24 yards.

The number of possibilities didn't seem to faze Florida coach Will Muschamp when discussing his scouting report on the Gamecocks' offense.

“I don't know as far as the route they'll go,” he said Monday. “I don't think Steve will change a whole lot of what he does whether Dylan Thompson is the quarterback. They do some of the wildcat stuff with (Bruce) Ellington in the game. So we'll have to adjust as we move there, as far as who the quarterback will be in the different packages and how they'll use them.”

Even with all the quarterback turmoil and the loss of star running back Marcus Lattimore to a torn ACL in mid-October, Muschamp expects Florida will have its hands full with the Gamecocks.

“They're very balanced on offense, 188 yards rushing in the game, 180 passing (a game),” he said. “Alshon Jeffrey's an outstanding wide receiver, a guy that's 6-4, 6-5, great ball-skills down the field, tremendous matchup issue in all situations.”

Another key injury for SC

Spur linebacker Antonio Allen missed last Saturday's game against Arkansas after he suffered a neck sprain during practice the previous week. Spurrier said Sunday that Allen's condition remains up in the air, but he is hopeful the senior will play against Florida.

Allen, a safety at Ocala Trinity Catholic who helped win a state title with Florida quarterback John Brantley, is having a standout season for the Gamecocks. He is sixth in the SEC with 62 tackles, despite missing one game, and he ranks among the league's best takeaway artists with three interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumbles recovered.

“Obviously we're not as good on defense without him in there,” Spurrier said.

Memories of Mizzou

Now that the Southeastern Conference has welcomed Missouri to the league in 2012, the league swells to 14 teams with the addition of Texas A&M in September.

Muschamp has plenty of experience with both programs from his time in the Big 12 as Texas' defensive coordinator.

“They do a nice job offensively,” he said. “They are very tough preparation as far as what they do. A lot of different formations. When Chase Daniel was there, I think (Dave) Christensen was the offensive coordinator. He's now at Wyoming. Dave did a great job. Very difficult preparation as far as what they do. They create a lot of space plays, a lot of different things they give you.

“I'm excited about them joining the league.”

Team awards

The SEC named senior running back Jeff Demps its offensive player of the week after he ran for a career-high 158 yards on 23 carries last Saturday in Florida's 26-21 victory against Vanderbilt. It was Demps' third 100-yard game of the season.

The SEC also listed sophomore safety Matt Elam among its outstanding performances from Week 10. Elam had three tackles for loss among his five tackles and one pass deflection.

Muschamp announced team awards from the Vanderbilt game, the first time Florida has had team awards since UF's last win against Kentucky more than a month ago: Demps (offensive player of the game); Jaylen Watkins (defensive player of the game); Caleb Sturgis (special teams players of the game); Matt Patchan (Scrap Iron award); Jordan Reed and Sharrif Floyd (Big Play award); and Dominique Easley (Hard Hat award). The Scout team players of the week were: Ryan Parrish, Hygens Succes and Tim Clark (offense).

Broadcast notes

Florida's game at No. 15 South Carolina is set for a 12:10 p.m. kickoff and will be televised on CBS. The game will be broadcast by CBS' Tim Brando (play-by-play), Spencer Tillman (analyst) and Lewis Johnson (sideline reporter).

Extra points

Florida is eighth in the SEC in sacks with 16 in nine games. The Gators led the SEC with nine sacks through four games. UF had just 21 sacks last season, which was second worst in the SEC. Florida also has given up 18 sacks this season after once leading the league with just two sacks allowed through the first four games this season. ... Senior punter David Lerner, who was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in July, will receive the Dick Schaap Sportsman of the Year Award in New York City on Dec. 7. The award is given by the Greater New York Chapter of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America.

Contact Jeff Barlis at (352) 374-5066 or and follow at

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