As Jeff Schultz so eloquently pointed out in his weekly predictions column, my scheduled interview with South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw on Wednesday was canceled by The Ol’ Ball Coach that day. We’re not sure if it was related to Schultz’s column advising Steve Spurrier he should learn to take criticism more like Georgia’s Mark Richt, but we have our suspicions. He’s been known to be a little thin-skinned here lately.
In any case, I wanted to profile Shaw for our readers because obviously he’s the starting quarterback for the Gamecocks, he’s from Flowery Branch, he’s the son of a longtime Georgia high school coach and, in case you haven’t noticed, he’s playing some pretty good ball.
A quick review on Shaw: He played at Flowery Branch High for his father, Lee Shaw (now at Rabun County). There he threw for 3,100 yards and 30 TDs with just six interceptions as a senior and established a reputation for finding a way to win games in dramatic fashion. Shaw was lightly recruited by UGA but signed with South Carolina and enrolled early in December of 2009.
With the Gamecocks, Shaw succeeded the troubled Stephen Garcia early last season and has been nearly unbeatable since. The Gamecocks are 12-1 with Shaw as the starter. At the moment he’s on quite the hot streak. In the last games, Shaw has completed 35-of-39 passes for 397 yards and four touchdowns.
While I wasn’t able to conduct my own interview, I was able to view a video of Shaw talking to South Carolina reporters Wednesday evening after the Gamecocks’ practice. He didn’t provide a lot of insight or any profound quotes, but I put together a little Q&A so you can at least hear from him this week. Here ya go . . .
Q: What are your thoughts about Saturday’s matchup with Georgia?
A: “Two Top 10 teams, a lot riding on this game, an SEC East Game, College GameDay and I’m from Georgia. Yeah, it’s pretty exciting.”
Q: What do you expect?
A: “I just know it’s going to be intense. It always is every year. We’ve just got to come out and play smart and take care of the ball.”
Q: Are you excited about what you saw Tennessee do to Georgia’s defense?
A: “Yeah, Tennessee among other teams. We’ve been watching all the tapes and we’ve got our plays ready for them that can hurt them. Of course, we’ve got to come out and execute.”
Q: What are your impressions of the Bulldogs’ defense?
A: “They just play hard. They’ve got Jarvis Jones who’s a great player and makes plays. Really their whole defense flies around. So we just have to play sound football.”
Q: What’s the plan for tailback Marcus Lattimore?
A: “We’ve got to get him involved early and we know that. He steps up on big stages. We expect him to this game.”
Q: Were there some positives you guys could take from struggling early against Kentucky?
A: “I think it’s good that we were down going into halftime. We were able to come back in the second half and it was good to see our team bounce back.”
Q: How is your offensive line doing?
A: “I think they’re playing hard and we’ve definitely been playing hard out here. There’s plays where they execute really well and there’s some plays we have mistakes, but that’s going to happen every game.”
Q: What does it mean to know you’re able to just run Lattimore up inside on a lead play at any time and get positive yardage?
A: “It’s an advantage. It’s good to know we can just run 21 and get the job done. But we can’t just go out there and run power against Georgia and expect to beat them.”
Q: Do you think Lattimore is back to where he was last season before his knee injury?
A: “I don’t think he’s missed a beat. He’s strong. One thing big about him is he gets better as the game goes on, the second third and fourth quarter, everybody’s wearing down and he’s getting stronger it seems.”
Q: How do you handle the hyped atmosphere and everything that is surrounding Saturday’s game?
A: “You can’t let the game be bigger than it is. It’s another SEC game and that’s how we treat it. We know it’s a big game and I’m from Georgia. We’ve got a lot of guys from Georgia. But we can’t treat it like it’s more than it is.”