The big talk of the offseason has been about South Carolina's quarterbacks. Most of it has not been good, thanks to Stephen Garcia's fifth suspension and questions because of it. However, South Carolina does have a few quarterbacks on its roster that can play.
In part one of a new weekly series, I will be examining the South Carolina Gamecocks depth at each position, and discuss each player.
This week, we will take a look at quarterbacks, then work our way through the defensive positions. I will also include incoming freshmen.
A great deal of this season hinges on the quarterback play.
Weight: 228 lbs.
Year: Fifth-year senior
Pros: Strong arm, mobile, tough
Cons: Questionable decision-making, ball security, off-field concerns
Make no mistake, South Carolina's best chance to win big in 2011 rests on the arm of Stephen Garcia, one of the most thrilling and infuriating players in Gamecocks history.
He has quietly moved up the South Carolina record books, while loudly showing up in the police blotter and local news outlets.
Which is sad to say, because he is a well-loved locker room player, good student and generally interesting character.
The national perception of Garcia is much lower than what his actual value is, and that is due to his propensity of blowing a big game on national TV and then getting suspended for ridiculous situations. This could be the year he turns that around...if he is allowed back on the team.
Weight: 199 lbs.
Pros: Speed, agility, work ethic
Cons: Accuracy on the deep ball, happy feet
This could be the year that Connor Shaw steps in for Stephen Garcia, but it may be by default, instead of based on the idea that he is ready.
Still, he could be ready. He had a nice spring game, and showed some flashes of being a very good quarterback as a true freshman in 2010. He is very fast, and uses his feet well in the pocket. However, he gets happy feet when he feels pressure, and runs too quickly.
His biggest weakness is his accuracy. It seems spotty, but it is horrible on the deep throw. He needs to tweak that. If he can, he could be the quarterback that this team needs. If not...
You better hope Garcia is reinstated.
Weight: 210 lbs.
Pros: Quick, good on the run, strong arm
Cons: Accuracy, gunslinger mentality (in high school), experience
Dylan Thompson is the first of three big unknown prospects. He is an athletic quarterback with good upside; however, his limited action scares me. There were rumblings that Dylan Thompson and Andrew Clifford could challenge Shaw for the second (or first, depending on Garcia) spot...that won't happen.
His spring game stats were misleading. He showed an ability to make some throws, but made some terrible choices. He has some speed and looks good moving, but he must work on his accuracy.
Weight: 225 lbs.
Cons: Arm strength, experience, athleticism
The second of three basically unknown players (Dylan Thompson, Clifford, Seth Strickland), the only thing that can be said about Clifford is that the coach says he practices well, and he had a nice showing at the last spring game.
According to Scout.com, he is a talented quarterback who was relatively unrecruited until he had a huge senior season, catching the eye of Coach Spurrier.
He has a an accurate arm, but from what little I have seen him throw, he lacks the pop of a starter. He could work his way into a bigger role with the team, but for now he is an emergency-type quarterback.
Weight: 192 lbs.
Pros: Intelligence, accuracy
Cons: Arm strength, athleticism
This is a player who has served his role well. As a walk-on in 2009, not much was expected of him. However, he has shown to be an accurate passer. During the spring game he played well. He has been around the offense, and had a role as the placeholder for kicks.
An academic honor roll member, he has the intelligence to succeed on and off the field.
Weight: 200 lbs.
Year: Incoming freshman
Pros: Speed, size, strength
Cons: Experience at QB, accuracy
Tanner McEvoy is an interesting prospect. Listed as an athlete at Rivals.com, and a WR at Scout.com, Tanner actually comes in to try and become South Carolina's next quarterback.
Playing quarterback for only his senior year of high school, he showed the country flashes of brilliance. He threw for 30 touchdowns versus seven interceptions. He also had a great deal of speed.
Of course, he is very raw. However, his 6'5" frame and 4.6 speed could come in handy down the road as a great dual-threat QB.
South Carolina currently has a C as far as the quarterback situation is concerned. If Garcia comes back, it rises to a solid B.
Connor Shaw has the potential to be very good, but the guys behind him don't offer as much. Tanner McEvoy could become something special.
There are too many unknowns to warrant anything higher than a C.