As a resident of Columbia, South Carolina the past few years, I’ve lived through the era of much-maligned former quarterback Stephen Garcia.
He couldn’t buy a consistent performance and he definitely couldn’t stay away from trouble off the field.
Enter Connor Shaw, the rising junior and 2012 Davey O’Brien candidate, who took the SEC by storm last season with his dual-threat play.
Shaw took the reins from Stephen Garcia after a Gamecocks loss against Auburn, and didn’t look back. Shaw led his team to a 7-1 record and a victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Capitol One Bowl.
History aside, the main reason why Connor Shaw is the answer the Gamecocks are looking for at the quarterback position is because he knows how to use his talents and step up in big moments.
Stephen Garcia couldn't do either of those things.
In Connor Shaw's first start versus Kentucky, he threw for four touchdowns and 311 yards. What a way to bid good riddance to Stephen Garcia.
For the season, he finished with 1,488 yards and threw for 14 touchdowns, against only six interceptions.
He also completed 65.4 percent of his passes.
Yes, Stephen Garcia completed 64 percent of his passes the previous year. But in college football, first impressions (as a starter at quarterback) count the most.
Another reason he’s the answer at quarterback for the Gamecocks is because of his impact on the ground game.
Last season, Shaw gained 525 yards rushing and ran for eight touchdowns. Just imagine a healthy Marcus Lattimore in the backfield alongside Shaw. With the two of them, South Carolina could have the nation’s best one-two punch.
Connor Shaw is consistent, reliable and talented. Plus, he won’t give Gamecock fans any headaches on or off the field.
Steve Spurrier normally deals with quarterbacks like Shaw, and usually guides them to great success. With Connor Shaw firmly entrenched as the starter, the Gamecocks' future looks bright in 2012.