Perhaps the most important player to South Carolina's success is redshirt sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia.
After a few minor incidents off it, Garcia finally found his way to the field last year. While not dazzling, he began to look comfortable, and provided Gamecock fans with some hope for the upcoming season.
Garcia is a classic dual-threat QB, making plays with both his arm and his feet last year. While his most famous play of the year involved being tackled by the ref during the LSU game, look for him to add some more accomplished plays to his highlight reel this year.
While Garcia has looked far from great in practice this month, he has certainly improved, and could lead the Gamecocks offense on some impressive drives.
He will be thrown into the fire, no doubt. He faces talented teams in N.C. State, Georgia, and Ole Miss in the first four weeks with only three college starts under his belt.
On Thursday night, Gamecock fans will see a preview of what Garcia could become, watching N.C. State signal caller Russell Wilson. Wilson, like Garcia, is a talented sophomore who can make plays with both his legs and his arm.
Garcia has come a long way since his days as a highly-touted recruit from Jefferson High School, outside Tampa. He is now the starting quarterback on a pretty good SEC team.
Steve Spurrier says he will remain there unless he really messes up—unlike last year when he and Chris Smelley rotated in and out as if on a merry-go-round.
The SEC coaches seem to seem think that Garcia is talented. They voted him the third-team preseason All-SEC QB (along with Kentucky QB Mike Hartline, who received the same amount of votes), behind the superior Tim Tebow and Jevan Snead.
Will Garcia be great? Probably not. But will he be a capable quarterback who shows improvement throughout the season, making more dynamic plays than bad ones? Probably.
We will find out on Thursday when Garcia and the rest of the Gamecocks attempt to conquer Carter-Finley Stadium.