Last year at this time, a big concern among Gamecock fans was that, if Connor Shaw got injured, South Carolina did not have SEC the depth at quarterback required to keep their head above water in the SEC East - to say nothing of competing for a league championship. That belief was reinforced by Dylan Thompson's deer-in-the-headlights performance on the road against Vanderbilt in the season opener, which did a lot more to draw comparisons to Tommy Beecher than Danny Wuerffel.
One year later, Steve Spurrier has arguably the greatest assemblage of QB talent since he arrived in Columbia. Aided by a big step forward from Dylan Thompson, the maturation of Brendan Nosovitich, and the addition of four star prospect and vintage Spurrier QB prototype Connor Mitch, South Carolina is no longer a season-ending injury away from finishing near the bottom of the SEC East.
Mitch, an early enrollee from the 2013 signing class, looked physically impressive at quarterback in the Garnet And Black Game, especially considering that most kids his age are still in high school right now. The 59 yard touchdown strike to Jerell Adams and the long pass to Kwinton Smith in the final minute were absolutely perfect. Brendan Nosovitch was arguably more consistent throughout the scrimmage, but the degree of difficulty on some of the throws Mitch converted was much higher.
Mitch has the higher upside of the two and, based on their springs, might even be better than Nosovitch right now, but the difference isn't great enough to make it worth potentially burning Mitch's redshirt. As a result, I'd be surprised if Nosty, as the Head Ball Coach has taken to calling the Allentown, PA native, doesn't spend 2013 as the backup for two-headed monster of Shaw and Thompson.
Of course, the next time the Gamecocks take the field for an NCAA-sanctioned practice, last year's starter - and this year's starter/co-starter - Connor Shaw will be back in the mix. Spurrier has maintained that Shaw is QB1 for the time being but that both Connor and Dylan will play. Shaw even hinted to the ESPN crew during the spring game that Spurrier does have plans to utilize Shaw as a running back or wide receiver with Dylan Thompson under center, which is a possibility that excites me in a way that I can only describe as deeply sexual.
With that said, Spurrier has entertained similar notions in the past during spring and fall practice (last year all the rage was two back sets, but we hardly if ever saw that during game action; before that, using Stephon Gilmore at wildcat was the hot new wrinkle) only to abandon them for the more conventional approach.
But two quarterback package or no two quarterback package, it's a great source of comfort to know that South Carolina has established quality depth at the quarterback position after more than a decade of searching for the stability that left when Phil Petty graduated in 2002.