Gamecocks’ QB Shaw leaves with shoulder bruise

NASHVILLE — South Carolina entered the season opener against Vanderbilt with high hopes, but it headed into halftime tied 10-10 without its starting quarterback.

Connor Shaw, the Gamecock’s starter since halfway through the 2011 season, went to the locker room in the second quarter with a shoulder contusion. The announcer in the Vanderbilt press box said the injury is presently being evaluated.

A shoulder contusion, or bruise, would not necessarily cause Shaw to miss significant time, but X-Rays could reveal further damage.
Backup quarterback Dylan Thompson started the second half for the Gamecocks.

Shaw passed for 1,448 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Before his injury, he was 3-for-6 passing with one interception against the Commodores, but also added 59 yards rushing.

The Gamecocks came into the contest with another backfield concern: the health of star running back Marcus Lattimore, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State last season. But following a fumble on his first carry of the season, the junior rumbled 29 yards for a touchdown — relieving some lingering doubts about the health of his knee.

Now, it’s Shaw who is the focus of the South Carolina fan base.

South Carolina’s 2012 schedule is brutal — with a five-game stretch that includes No. 6 Georgia, No. 3 LSU, No. 23 Florida and No. 10 Arkansas later in the season — and it will likely need its starting quarterback healthy to make a run at its second SEC East title in the past three seasons.

UPDATE: Shaw returned to the lineup with 6:02 left in the third quarter, the team’s third drive of the second half. The Gamecocks trail Vanderbilt 13-10.