The Head Ball Coach got this one right.
After weeks of watching the mess that was the Stephen Garcia-run offense, Steve Spurrier set South Carolina's offense free by benching the fifth-year senior for sophomore Connor Shaw, who will start against Kentucky Saturday.
The move came days after South Carolina's 16-13 loss at home to Auburn in which the offense put up a season-low 289 yards. Garcia threw for 160 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions on 9-of-23 passing. In his last two games he has thrown six interceptions and just two touchdowns.
For those counting at home, Garcia has thrown four touchdowns, nine interceptions and his passing efficiency is a whopping 107.7, good enough for ninth in the SEC.
"As most everyone knows our quarterback play has not been as good as we hoped and we've got to do something," Spurrier said.
So, Spurrier stepped up and made the right choice for the future of a team that most had pegged as the favorite in the SEC East. The Gamecocks appeared to field the most complete team worthy of making it to Atlanta, but after back-to-back offensive disasters, South Carolina just isn't that attractive of a pick anymore because of how much Garcia struggled. Sure, there have been other issues, but the ineptitude of the offense was mainly due to Garcia's struggles and poor decision-making.
"It wasn't that hard a call," Spurrier said. "At some point, we've got to do something to shake up this offense and this is the first step."
Shaw was actually the first option at the beginning of the year, but he struggled mightily out of the gate. In the Gamecocks' opener against East Carolina, he completed three of his nine passes for 21 yards and was yanked for Garcia, who would become the starter up until Tuesday. Shaw has only attempted two passes since his season-opening start.
It makes you wonder just how good Shaw is if he couldn't beat out Garcia until now. Regardless, this team has to rally around its new quarterback and Spurrier has to somehow be patient if and when he does struggle -- because he probably will at the beginning.
Shaw has talent and Spurrier praised him during the offseason as he took over for Garcia, who was busy serving his fifth suspension of his South Carolina career. Players seemed impressed with Shaw in practice.
But when Shaw was handed the keys to the offense, he failed his first driving test. Spurrier barely let him get past the neighbors' yard before he yanked him away from the wheel and kept him grounded until late in the Vanderbilt game, after he had seen enough of Garcia's dreadful outing.
Now, the keys are back in Shaw's hands and Spurrier insists he's going to be able drive this sucker outside of the neighborhood this time.
“This is his game," Spurrier said. "It’s his opportunity to go play and we think he’s ready. We’re going to find out Saturday.
"I just ask all the Gamecock fans to give Connor your support the same way you have all the others players here. I think he’s ready to play well."
Spurrier has to give him the same support as well or the Gamecocks will be back to square one.
During his career, Shaw has passed for 252 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, so he hasn't exactly been stellar. But that's all in the past. It's time to mold this offense around him.
“It’s an opportunity I’m willing to take advantage of,” Shaw said. “I think I’m ready to play. I’m excited and we’ll see how it goes this Saturday. I feel confident and I feel like I’m ready to play.”