South Carolina Football: Connor Shaw, the Good and the Bad
Connor Shaw showed that he was truly capable of leading the South Carolina Gamecocks. He played phenomenally. The announcers called him "almost flawless."
After re-watching the game tape from Saturday, I can safely say that Steve Spurrier made the right call moving to Shaw, and probably should have let him work through his first quarter East Carolina funk. He did many things well, and has a couple of areas to improve in.
If he can improve, he could be exactly what the Gamecocks needed.
Connor showed a great deal of accuracy on his throws. These were not "area throws" where he just threw to a random place hoping the receiver would be there.
He fired shoulder passes and purposefully under-threw receivers to give them the best shot of catching the ball, showing incredible accuracy on the deep throw. I guarantee Damiere Byrd wants those two sure touchdowns that he dropped, back.
Good: Decision Making
What a relief it was to see a quarterback settle for the dump off. With playmakers like the team has, the dump off passes turned into 5-15 yard gains.
There is nothing wrong with that, and you didn't see Shaw trying to just "chunk it deep to Alshon Jeffery" every time there was trouble. He also was decisive when he chose to run.
And don't give me that "it's just Kentucky" crap. Coming into the game, they had the No. 10 ranked pass defense in the country. Now they have the 23rd ranked pass defense in the country.
Good: the Long Ball
All I can say about Connor Shaw's long ball placement is that it was mostly brilliant. When you are watching ducks for most of the season, seeing balls thrown 40 yards down the field on a rope did my heart good.
Damiere Byrd has the speed to beat people deep... he proved that. Now, he just has to catch some of them. Connor easily could have had six touchdowns and about 350 yards had Byrd caught the dropsies.
Still, brilliant throws all day from Shaw.
Good: Speed and Running Ability
I will always respect Stephen Garcia's tough running style. However, Connor Shaw is faster, and smarter. He runs to the sideline or slides. He is a fantastic runner, and as stated before, he is decisive when he sees a hole.
Good: Ball Protection
No, I don't mean he's wearing a cup. (Badup, CRASH). Thank you! I'm here all night.
What I mean, is that Connor placed the ball where only the receivers could make a play on the it, and he was careful with his running. The most impressive throw (for me) was one where Alshon Jeffery was covered and had a safety running towards him, and a linebacker underneath him.
Connor lofted a perfect touch pass to his back left shoulder, and Alshon made a play with three Kentucky defenders closing in. It didn't look gorgeous, but it was perfection.
Bad: Staring Down Receivers
It wasn't all gravy and BoJangles biscuits. Connor had some flaws that will need to be addressed before playing Florida, Arkansas and Clemson.
He needs to improve his eyes. This is a common mistake for a young quarterback. Once he sees where he wants to go with the ball, he stares down the receiver. Great safeties and linebackers will eat him alive if he does this as consistently as he did against Kentucky.
At times, when his primary receiver were covered, he would go straight to the check down, which was mostly good. However, a quick glance to his other receivers may have revealed better options. However, like Slide 2 said, I would much rather have a 5-15 yard gain then an interception.
Bad: Taking Sacks
This is his biggest issue. He gives up way too many sacks. His internal clock isn't set to release the ball yet. Hopefully, this will improve over time. This was something he's shown in every game he has appeared in.
He needs to continue to step up in the pocket, and then let it go or run. There are times he waits too long... way too long.
As always, it is great to be a Gamecock!