Stats & Info: Stephen Garcia

The University of South Carolina announced today that senior quarterback Stephen Garcia was dismissed from the football team.

Garcia had been suspended five times during his time with the Gamecocks. He was in trouble from the start, getting arrested twice within his first two months on campus.

His fifth suspension came in April, but he was fully reinstated to the team in August. As part of the reinstatement, he agreed on several guidelines to remain with the football team. Today’s dismissal was the result of Garcia failing to meet those guidelines.

When he was on the field, Garcia was one of the most successful quarterbacks in South Carolina history. He was the third Gamecock to throw for more than 7,500 yards in his career, finishing behind Todd Ellis and Steve Taneyhill. He also ranked third all-time in pass attempts, pass completions and passing touchdowns. As a starter, Garcia was 20-14.

Playing for Steve Spurrier, Garcia accumulated two of the top three seasons in total offense (passing yards plus rushing yards) in South Carolina history. He broke the 3,000-yard barrier twice, setting the school record with 3,281 yards of total offense last season.

Despite leading the Gamecocks to four wins in their first five games, Garcia struggled in 2011. After completing 64 percent of his passes in 2010, he was connecting on just over half of his attempts this year. He was passing for 50 less yards per game, and had thrown more than twice as many interceptions (9) as touchdown passes (4).

Garcia did not play in South Carolina’s Week 6 game against Kentucky, but entering that week his nine interceptions were the most in the nation. Among quarterbacks with at least 30 pass attempts, he threw picks at the third highest rate in FBS.

Part of the problem for Garcia in 2011 was his trouble connecting with Alshon Jeffery. The two combined for 1,413 yards and nine touchdowns in 2010. With opposing secondaries focusing on Jeffery this season, Garcia completed less than half of his pass attempts to his primary receiver. Opponents were able to intercept five passes intended for Jeffery while limiting him to two touchdowns from Garcia.

Garcia is replaced at quarterback by sophomore Connor Shaw. Shaw has started two games in his South Carolina career. He started the season opener against East Carolina, but completed just three of nine passes before he was replaced by Garcia. He had much more success against Kentucky, completing two thirds of his passes and tossing as many touchdowns as Garcia had thrown in five games.
1. The nation’s two longest intrastate winning streaks are on the line this week. Ohio State enters its game with Toledo riding a 37-game winning streak against teams from the state of Ohio, and a 43-game unbeaten streak (42-0-1). The Buckeyes haven’t lost to an Ohio team since dropping a 7-6 decision to Oberlin in 1921. Meanwhile, LSU hosts Northwestern State having won 27 straight against teams from the state of Louisiana. The Tigers haven’t lost to an intrastate team since 1982 against Tulane.

2. Auburn dropped out of the AP top 25 this week following a lackluster performance against Utah State in the opener. The Tigers are the first defending AP national champions to be unranked by the second poll of the season since Alabama in 1965. That year, Alabama entered the season ranked fifth, but dropped out after a loss to Georgia. The AP ranked only the top 10 schools back then.

3. Stephen Garcia will start for South Carolina against Georgia. He is now reunited with running back Marcus Lattimore and receiver Alshon Jeffery to form a very explosive trio. Last season, Garcia threw for 3,059 yards, while Lattimore ran for 1,197 yards and Jeffery had 1,517 receiving yards. The Gamecocks were one of seven teams (Boise State, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, San Diego State and SMU) last season to have a 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher, and 1,000-yard receiver. Of those seven teams, South Carolina and SMU are the only teams with a 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher, and 1,000-yard receiver returning from last season.

4. In this week’s only matchup of ranked opponents, Alabama travels to Happy Valley to face Penn State. This will be Joe Paterno’s 14th game against the Tide, sporting a 4-9 record. Alabama has the most wins against Paterno of any school outside of the Big Ten. In fact, among non-Big Ten schools that Paterno has faced at least 10 times, Alabama is the only one with a winning record. He has faced 11 such teams and has an incredible record of 191-32-2 (.853). Those teams? Miami, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Syracuse, NC State, Army, West Virginia, Rutgers, Maryland, Temple.

5. Michigan goes for its third straight win over Notre Dame, and that hasn’t happened in a long time. Michigan won the first eight series meetings from 1887-1908, but hasn’t been able to win three straight against the Irish in the last 30 meetings. Since 1909, Michigan has played only two other opponents at least 10 times without posting a three-game win streak, Those schools are only 45 miles from each other: Cornell (10 meetings) and Syracuse (11 meetings).

Receivers who could contend for Heisman

June, 6, 2011
Only two wide receivers have won the Heisman Trophy (1987 Tim Brown, 1991 Desmond Howard). In 2011, there are three who could emerge as contenders.

Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
The 6-foot-4-inch junior burst on to the national scene last season with 1,517 receiving yards. More impressive was the fact that he dropped just one pass.

In 2010, Jeffery had 88 receptions and 61 of them gained at least 10 yards. There have been only five instances over the past five seasons when a receiver had at least 70 receptions and gained 10 yards or more at a higher rate. Compare that to former Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, the fourth pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He gained 10 yards or more on just 56 percent of his receptions last season.

Jeffery’s production is helped by a dynamic teammate who keeps defenses honest, running back Marcus Lattimore. In 2010, South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia completed 84 percent of his passes -- and averaged 19.6 yards per completion -- when targeting Jeffery after a play-action fake. Those numbers could go even higher this season as respect for Lattimore grows. (Lattimore will be featured in our look at running backs on Tuesday.)

Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
He returns to Oklahoma for his senior season to, he said, "win more championships and break every record possible as a receiver.” As a junior, he hauled in an NCAA-best 131 passes.

This season, Broyles’ numbers could be mind boggling.

Last season, he averaged more than nine catches per game and did not drop one ball. In his last two seasons, Broyles has 29 touchdown receptions, 20 of them have been for 10 yards or more. Both figures are tops in college football.

There are two obstacles for Broyles to overcome. Oklahoma’s running game could be a question mark with the loss of leading rusher DeMarco Murray. Also, Broyles isn’t the only Heisman candidate on Oklahoma: QB Landry Jones (who will be featured on Thursday) finished second in FBS last season with 38 touchdown passes. The only receiver in the last decade to finish in the top five of Heisman voting ahead of his quarterback was Larry Fitzgerald in 2003.

Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
The word that comes to mind to describe Blackmon on the field is monster. He's a nightmare for defensive coordinators with his ability to turn screen plays into big gains, and also beat a secondary down field.

Last season, Blackmon averaged 10.8 yards on receptions made at or behind the line of scrimmage. He also caught 63.6 percent of passes that targeted him 15 yards or more downfield. The ability to turn any throw into a big gain helped Blackmon lead FBS last season in receiving yards per game.

What could possibly haunt Blackmon in 2011? He dropped five passes last season, which may not seem like a lot. But it is when you consider that Jeffery had just one drop last season and Broyles had none.
A statistical preview of the Chick-fil-A Bowl (ESPN, 7:30 ET) between the No. 20 South Carolina Gamecocks and the No. 23 Florida State Seminoles.

With stud freshman Marcus Lattimore in the backfield, South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has put up great numbers after using a play-action fake.

He hasn’t thrown an interception all season and he’s completed more than three-quarters of his pass attempts when using play action.

Garcia’s big-play target is sophomore wideout Alshon Jeffery. When Garcia looks to throw deep -- throwing the ball more than 20 yards downfield -- he’s had huge success throwing it Jeffery’s way and little success anywhere else.

Garcia’s completion percentage is double, his average yards per attempt is nearly triple and he’s thrown four times as many touchdowns without an interception when targeting Jeffery instead of any other player.

On the other sideline, there is uncertainty at who will start at quarterback. Florida State may have to turn to E.J. Manuel if starter Christian Ponder can’t go. Manuel has shown the ability to hit receivers downfield in his limited duty this season, including an impressive 9-for-13 on balls thrown 10 yards or more downfield against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game.

And both quarterbacks will have to be on the lookout if they get into obvious passing situations. Both teams’ defenses have taken advantage of opponents that are forced to pass in the second half.

Florida State leads the nation in second-half sacks while their team is leading with 23. Tied for second, of course, is South Carolina with 21.