South Carolina Football: Why SEC East Crown Rests Solely on Connor Shaw

Alex Roberts@@alexCoAbassCorrespondent IJune 18, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 02:  Connor Shaw #14 of the South Carolina Gamecocks passes during the Capitol One Bowl against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Florida Citrus Bowl on January 2, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Connor Shaw is the unquestioned key to South Carolina's SEC East title chances. While South Carolina will boast one of the premier defenses in the country and one of the top running games as well, the quarterback is the position that puts the car in drive. 

Luckily for South Carolina fans, Connor Shaw is more than up for the challenge. 

To begin with, he must be the vocal leader of the team. He's shown himself to be more than capable of being "that guy." He works hard during the offseason, and we all know he is a gym rat. This helps him build the respect of the coaches and his teammates. 

They listen to him. He's going to have to be able to right the ship when it is inevitably shaken. He will be the calm and guiding hand on the field, steering the team to victory. No other position on the entire team has that ability. It's all in Connor's hands. 

He also has to make the wide receiver group better. This can be done by giving receivers catchable balls and spreading the wealth. The Gamecocks cannot win the SEC without the threat of a passing offense.  With questionable experience at the receiving group, Connor Shaw must ensure that the work is put in after practice in order to become comfortable with his group. 

However, he can't forget about his legs. He's an incredible runner. He's a much better version Tyler Martinez from Nebraska. He's shifty and intelligent. He knows when to get down. If he can lead the team, throw in some great passing plays and runs when they are necessary, then the Gamecocks could easily go unbeaten. 

If any of these things do not occur (which would reflect directly on Mr. Shaw himself), then the team could lose a few games. To beat Georgia, Connor Shaw must be the X-factor. 

He also has to remain healthy. If he goes down, any show of an SEC East title goes down with him.  This is why this year is the year of Shaw. The team will go (or grow) as he goes.