South Carolina Football: Why Gamecocks QB Connor Shaw Deserves More Respect
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With Tyler Wilson, Aaron Murray, Tyler Bray, James Franklin and AJ McCarron all taking snaps in the SEC in 2012, there's no doubt that the conference is loaded with quarterback talent.
One SEC quarterback is getting a bit overlooked in the preseason prognostications, though—South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw.
Shaw was not listed on Phil Steele's preseason All-SEC team, a team which went four deep at quarterback. Is he better than Wilson, Murray, McCarron and Franklin—all of whom appeared on Steele's list? That's certainly debatable. I wouldn't discount the possibility, though.
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Shaw learned on the job, kept South Carolina afloat and emerged as a star late in the season. Those accomplishments seemingly have gone overlooked this offseason, though.
When running back Marcus Lattimore went down with a knee injury midway through the 2011 campaign, the Gamecocks were essentially written off as SEC East contenders despite the fact that they needed only one Georgia loss down the stretch to make it to the Georgia Dome.
He led his team to a 4-1 SEC record once he took over the starting quarterback role from Stephen Garcia in October, with the only loss coming at then-No. 7 Arkansas. He passed for an average of 219 yards and rushed for an average of 80 yards per game over his final three games of 2011.
All of those games were without Lattimore behind him.
With Lattimore back in 2012, it should benefit Shaw through the air and on the ground. Lattimore's presence will take pressure off of Shaw and allow him to find open receivers. Sure, the loss of Alshon Jeffery will take some time for Shaw to get used to, but Jeffery was remarkably average last season for the Gamecocks.
Shaw may not be considered one of the SEC's best right now, but if he continues the progression that he showed late last season, don't be surprised to see his name pop up in that discussion in December.
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