2010 NCAAF Preview: Who's the QB of the Future for the South Carolina Gamecocks?
Take Stephen Garcia out of the equation. Of the "backups" on the South Carolina roster, which quarterback can you label the future? Zac Brandise and Garcia are both in their junior year; everyone else is a freshman or a sophomore. The smart bet would be Connor Shaw.
Connor Shaw is a true freshman from Flowery Branch, Georgia. He has incredible speed, and is without a doubt talented enough to be where he is. There is just one problem. Many consider Garcia to be a mistake made by Steve Spurrier, and they couldn't be more wrong.
Spurrier was a mistake made by Garcia. It may be too early to say that, but it's getting close. 2010 is the make-or-break season. If Garcia was at a school with a coach who didn't demoralize his quarterbacks, and a school that had an offensive line, he'd be talked about for the Heisman next year.
Instead, he's playing for Spurrier, who has commented that he wanted to change Garcia's style. Lately, he seems to have changed his tune and will let Garcia play, but I doubt it. So with Shaw being a runner in every sense of the word, nothing makes me think that will change.
Keep in mind that Spurrier made Rex Grossman and Danny Wuerffel great, though they floundered on the next level. Not sure if guys who flounder under Spurrier would be great at the next level, but it's funny how things work.
Number three quarterback on the depth chart right now, Andrew Clifford, is most likely the future. The 6'2" 225 pound freshman from Tampa has the size, the tools, and most importantly a more "Spurrier-friendly" style. In the spring game, Clifford was 8-12 for 100 yards, the best performance by a quarterback.
By future I don't mean 2010. I mean 2011 or 2012 and beyond. More importantly than the "future" though is the present. Will the Gamecocks finally have an offensive line? New Offensive Line coach Shaun Elliott is said to have turned up the intensity and it's rubbing off.
If the offensive line is there, the group lining up at wide out is quite impressive. Alshon Jefferey, D.L. Moore, Tori Gurley, and Dion LeCorn, not to mention reserves, and a nice handful of tight ends and backs to catch out of the backfield; that lineup could help nearly any quarterback look good.
While I personally don't think Garcia had a bad spring game, I know it wasn't great and it was fuel for the fire of the anti-Garcia lot. To look at Garcia's career at South Carolina, it's easy to throw the blame on him. It's impossible, however, to miss the fact that he has never, with the exception of two or three games, had time to throw.
Only time will tell what the future holds for the Gamecocks, but speculation will run rampant until the spots are filled in the 2010 SEC Championship Game. If the Gamecocks aren't there, many will call for the head of Garcia. But if 2010 is a huge disappointment, it's time to call for the head that wears the visor.
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