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.
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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.