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South Carolina Football Wins Big: Stephen Garcia Proves He's the Starter

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 28:  Stephen Garcia #5 of the South Carolina Gamecocks drops back to pass against the Clemson Tigers at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
DJ BatchlerCorrespondent ISeptember 3, 2010

Stephen Garcia muffled some of his critics.  Not all of them, but some of them.  Stephen Garcia did not get sacked, he threw nice passes, he ran two touchdowns, and he plowed defenders in his way on more than one occasion. 

There were instances when Garcia had a few Brett Favre like passes that fell short, or went long when he threw them off of his back foot.  Overall though Garcia played one of his best games as a Gamecock, and the fact that it was Southern Miss had little to do with it.

Stephen Garcia ran the offense, not only as a quarterback, but as the leader.  He was there for his teammates after the good and bad plays.  On the sideline he never went to himself.  He was with the team, and when Gilmore and Shaw entered the game he wasn't sulking, he was supporting.

When true freshman, and five star, running back recruit Marcus Lattimore handled his business on the ground Garcia was there to congratulate him.  Garcia did his fair share of the work on the ground as well.  Including an impressive 22 yard touchdown run, and a one yard touchdown run as well.

Ace Sanders, Marcus Lattimore, Stephon Gilmore, DeVonte Holloman, Alshon Jeffery, and Spencer Lanning all played large parts in the Gamecocks season opening victory.  Connor Shaw impressed many in his debut for the Gamecocks.

Southern Miss isn't an SEC team, but they aren't a cupcake either.  The ESPN crew calling the game made a great point about literally watching Stephen Garcia mature during the game.  Though that can be said for the entire Gamecock team.

Don't forget that just minutes, literally minutes, before the kickoff of tonight's game there was still question as to who would, and who would not be able to suit up and play.  The opening drives for both the Gamecock offense and defense didn't look great, but Carolina rebounded nicely.

There weren't many who expected the Gamecocks to put 41 on the board, and the big plays that happened caught many by surprise.  It is nearly unarguable that this is the most talented team the Gamecocks have put on the field in years, if not ever.

The 2010 Gamecocks have more than one legitimate threat at several positions, including quarterback, but Stephen Garcia is the number one quarterback.  Shaw will be a great change of pace, and will be a capable starter one day, but showed in spots that he isn't quite ready.  Gilmore can also run the Wild Cocky with great results.

Alshon Jeffery, D.L. Moore, Tori Gurley, and Ace Sanders are all legitimate threats to break a play at any time from the Wide Receiver position.  Marcus Lattimore, Kenny Miles, Brian Maddox, Jarvis Giles, and even Bryce Sherman have play making ability at the running back position.

It isn't time to declare what South Carolina is, or is not capable of for the rest of the season.  However if the Gamecocks can continue to put together complete games like they did tonight, the sky may be the limit. 

The 2010 season is truly time for the Gamecocks to seize the moment and stake their claim as a legitimate contender in the SEC East.  The Gamecocks have stepped up their recruiting, their facilities, so now it's time to step up in the win column.  Each week is a tougher test.  Each week is a test the Gamecocks need to pass.

If Stephen Garcia can play like he did against Southern Miss every week, Steve Spurrier will have to look elsewhere for someone to take his verbal frustration out on.  Maybe Spurrier's constant dogging of Garcia was the ammunition Garcia needed.  Garcia took the reigns and led his team to a four touchdown win on opening night. 

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