UAB-South Carolina Preview

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is just one win away from 200 victories in his college coaching career — a milestone he barely recognizes.

Spurrier counts his wins in the NFL and USFL, so in his mind he is going after victory No. 247 on Saturday when the No. 8 Gamecocks take on Alabama-Birmingham. And second, he knows there are 70 other coaches in all levels of college football that have hit this same milestone.

"There are a bunch of dudes who have won 200 games. I don't know how you brag about that too much," Spurrier said Tuesday. "That means you've coached quite a few years and fortunate enough to stay healthy and not get fired."

In Division I football, only three active coaches — Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer (253), Texas' Mack Brown (229) and Nevada's Chris Ault (227) — have more wins than Spurrier.

In the 25 years since Spurrier coached his first college game, the 67-year-old has changed only a little. The 1966 Heisman Trophy winner still gets along with a slight limp, even after offseason knee replacement surgery to fix the joint worn down by his 10 years at quarterback in the NFL.

He isn't considered the innovator he was early in his career, when he revolutionized offenses in the Southeastern Conference with the Fun 'N' Gun at Florida. South Carolina (2-0) threw for 397 yards in last week's 48-10 win over East Carolina, the best mark since Spurrier joined the Gamecocks.

"It was better than what we've done in a long time," said Spurrier, in his eighth season at South Carolina. "But it was nice to just get the ball out. You don't how many passes I've called here when the ball didn't get out."

Dylan Thompson, playing for injured starter Connor Shaw, completed 21 of 37 passes for 330 yards.

South Carolina managed only 67 yards passing a week earlier in a 17-13 win at Vanderbilt, the game where Shaw banged up his throwing shoulder. He re-entered the game after the injury and led the Gamecocks on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive.

Shaw barely practiced in the week leading up to East Carolina, leaving Spurrier little choice but to go with the untested sophomore in Thompson.

Maybe it wasn't as big a gamble as many fans thought. Spurrier said Thompson had a confidence during Friday's walk-through and Saturday's pregame that gave the coach hope for a big game.

"He had a look in his eye, 'Hey coach, just call the plays, I can handle it,'" Spurrier said. "And he pretty much did."

After Marcus Lattimore tied the school record with his 33rd career touchdown to open South Carolina's scoring, Thompson hit tight end Rory Anderson for a 7-yard TD pass, DeAngelo Smith on a 30-yard TD pass and D.L. Moore on a 29-yard TD pass to put the Gamecocks ahead 28-0.

South Carolina completed passes to 11 different receivers as the passing game - Lattimore finished with 40 yards on 13 carries - took center stage.

"It was a good, positive day for the Gamecocks and especially for Dylan," said Spurrier, who reiterated that Shaw was the starter and would return to the job when healthy.

"I don't think we should forget what a great player Connor is," Thompson said.

Still, Spurrier said Shaw was unlikely to try any serious practice until Wednesday, meaning Thompson could be in line for a second straight start against UAB.

For Spurrier, that's wait and see.

"We don't know until we start playing the ballgames," the coach said. "We don't know if Connor's got an injury that's going to take him out of two, three ball games. What Dylan proved is he can play when needed."

Either way, win No. 200 seems inevitable this weekend against UAB. Spurrier is 45-0 in his college career against teams from outside the BCS, and UAB lost its season opener 39-29 at home to Troy.

First-year Blazers coach Garrick McGee said his team knows they are going against one of the best coaches in the business.

"They are very talented. They have one of the best football coaches sitting on the sidelines in the history of the game, which gives them credibility immediately," McGee said.