Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SEC [Print without images]

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Midseason review: South Carolina

By Chris Low
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

One of the key questions with South Carolina coming into the season was whether or not sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia would mature enough to lead this team to a successful season. So far, so good. Garcia has shown a lot of toughness, and he’s also done a much better job of taking care of the ball. The Gamecocks (5-5, 2-2) have proven that they’re good enough on defense to play with anybody, and they’ve done it despite some injuries, suspensions and freshmen playing key roles. They would love to have that Georgia game back right now where they lost in the final seconds on the road. Either way, this appears to be a much improved team and much more focused team than the one we saw going through the motions in the Outback Bowl at the end of last season. The challenge now for South Carolina is seeing it through to the end, something the Gamecocks haven’t done very well.

Offensive MVP: QB Stephen Garcia. He doesn’t have eye-popping numbers, and he’s not among the leaders in pass efficiency in the SEC. But make no mistake, Garcia’s playmaking ability is a big reason the Gamecocks are sitting here at 5-2 right now. He’s been able to scramble around and make some plays, and he also hasn’t given up as many plays as he did a year ago. He’s still developing as a quarterback, but it’s been a solid first half of the season for the versatile sophomore.

Defensive MVP: OLB Eric Norwood. One of the top defensive players in a league full of great defensive players, Norwood leads the way with six sacks. He’s been a little quiet in the last two games, but the impact he had on his team those first five games was as great as any player in the league. He’s not just a pass-rusher, either. He’s returned an interception for a touchdown this season and has also blocked two kicks.