QBs or not QBs are major questions for USC, Mizzou

Entering a high-profile matchup with concerns over the health of your starting quarterback is hardly an ideal recipe, but that’s the situation facing both teams when No. 8 South Carolina prepares to host Missouri on Saturday in SEC play.

Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw has already missed one game and was knocked out of last week’s win over Alabama-Birmingham after aggravating an injury to his throwing shoulder, but South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier insisted the junior will play Saturday.

Missouri QB James Franklin also sat out last week with inflammation in his right shoulder but said he is certain he will play in the Tigers’ first conference road game since joining the SEC in the offseason. They will need Franklin’s poise and experience in a hostile environment.

The Tigers rebounded from a crushing loss to Georgia in their SEC debut to outlast Arizona State 24-20 a week ago. One early trend Missouri will look to correct is wilting late in games after getting off to fast starts. Georgia scored 32 second-half points against Missouri and Arizona State put up a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to turn it into a nail-biter.

The return of Franklin – who declined a pain-killing injection last week – should provide a boost after redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser made his first career start last week. Prize recruit Dorial Green-Beckham has yet to make much of an impact, with five receptions for 39 yards.

After squeaking out a four-point win at Vanderbilt in the season opener, the Gamecocks (3-0, 1-0) have steamrolled overmatched East Carolina and UAB by a combined 97-16. Shaw exited last week’s win prior to halftime with a hairline fracture, but South Carolina has not missed a beat behind backup Dylan Thompson. The sophomore has thrown for 507 yards and five touchdowns against zero interceptions.

Star RB Marcus Lattimore has scored four TDs in his three games but has seen a limited workload in the back-to-back routs. The Gamebacks will be without standout safety D.J. Swearinger, who was suspended one game for a helmet-to-helmet hit last week.

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