COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says backup quarterback and former Tuscaloosa prep standout Chris Smelley will start Thursday night against Vanderbilt.
Spurrier says he made the decision after starting quarterback Tommy Beecher couldn't practice Monday because he couldn't lift his non-throwing shoulder.
But Spurrier concedes Smelley probably deserves to start even if Beecher was not injured.
Beecher threw four interceptions in his first career start last week against North Carolina State. The junior came out before the fourth quarter because he was hurt.
Smelley then completed all five of his passes and led the Gamecocks on three scoring drives.
Spurrier says freshman Stephen Garcia will likely be Smelley's backup unless Beecher's shoulder improves.
Smelley was a star quarterback at American Christian Academy in Tuscaloosa.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)