Gamecocks to start Shaw at QB

Sophomore has outplayed Garcia in preseason, according to Spurrier

jkendall@thestate.comSeptember 1, 2011 

Quarterback Connor Shaw (14) throws during passing drill at the South Carolina football practice Thursday morning.

TIM DOMINICK — The State

  • GAMECOCKS VS. PIRATES WHO: No. 12 USC vs. East Carolina WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday WHERE: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte TV: Fox Sports RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 LINE: USC by 20 1/2 TICKETS: ticketmaster.com

Sophomore Connor Shaw outplayed senior Stephen Garcia in the preseason and will start the No. 12 Gamecocks’ season-opener Saturday night, head coach Steve Spurrier said Thursday night.

Spurrier made the announcement Thursday night on his weekly radio call-in show “Carolina Calls.”

“I said way back we are going to have a preseason competition to see who the starter is going to be for the first game. The guy who rated the best was Connor Shaw,” Spurrier said on WNKT-FM. “He played better than Stephen Garcia, simple as that so he’s going to start the game.”

Shaw will play the first quarter against East Carolina, and Garcia will play the second quarter.

“We’ll go from there, see what happens,” Spurrier said.

If Spurrier’s decision, which he said was “the conclusion of the whole staff,” stands, it will mean the end of a 28-game starting streak for Garcia, a fifth-year senior.

Neither quarterback was available for comment Thursday, and a school spokesman said Shaw would not comment because of a team rule that makes players off limits to media after Wednesday on game weeks.

Garcia is third in school history with 6,753 passing yards and 43 passing touchdowns for his career. He is coming off his best season, a 3,059-yard campaign that featured career highs in touchdowns (20) and completion percentage (64.2).

Spurrier apparently anticipated the decision would be met with some questions because he followed up his announcement by defending his credentials for making it.

“I have been coaching 31 years of quarterbacks, and I have been coaching 26 years (as a) head coach and offensive coordinator,” he said. “Hopefully, most of (the fans) will feel like a Gamecock friend of mine. He said, ‘You know we’ve been playing football here at South Carolina for over 100 years and since Spurrier and his guys got here, why don’t we give them a chance to see if they can maybe run the football program a little differently than the guys before. Let’s let them guys run it the way they see best because they have a pretty good track record.’ I appreciate all you guys that say that.”

Shaw completed 23 of 33 passes for 223 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions last season in his first year out of Flowery Branch High School in Georgia. He was rated a three-star quarterback after a senior season in which he threw for 3,100 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior.

Video from Aug. 25: Connor Shaw

Video from Aug. 25: Stephen Garcia

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