"Yea, we're planning on starting him against Alabama," Spurrier said after practice Tuesday evening. "He actually played three quarters really well, and obviously the two fumbles were really bad plays. Now can he stop fumbling? We're going to give him a chance to stop fumbling. He hasn't thrown a lot of picks this year. Other than the fumbles he's played pretty decently."
Garcia was well on his way to a career night against the Auburn Tigers Saturday night. Garcia finished the game going 15-for-21 for 235 yards and three touchdown passes, but it was the two fourth quarter fumbles that Gamecock fans will ultimately remember. Spurrier's biggest issue with Garcia wasn't necessarily the two fumbles that led to 14 Auburn points, but the way Garcia runs the ball. Garcia will duck his head and lunge into a defender instead of avoiding a head-on collision like Auburn quarterback Cam Newton does. Every player is told in high school that if you can't see what is hitting you, it's hard to avoid losing the football. According to Spurrier, Garcia has told him that he will stop lowering his head otherwise he'll be sitting on the bench.
"I've told Stephen I'm gonna have a tough time letting him play if he ducks his head like that cause that's how serious injuries occur," Spurrier said. "We tell our players all the time you got to see what you hit and everyone has to run - you can run low but you can't duck your head. He's gonna try not to do that and he tells me he can play without doing that so he must do that or we're going to take him out to avoid injury to himself. Heck, I'm afraid they can sue me if I let him play like that cause that's a terrible way to play football. You can't do it like that."
"(We) had a lot of errors in the game and the reason we got beat really. Had pretty good effort, but Auburn played well. They didn't make many mistakes - had the two fumbles and that was it. Our fumbles they got all of them in the second half, and then we tossed one out of bounds as you know. We'll regroup and see if we can't get better someway, somehow."
Many point back to last season when Spurrier criticized Garcia for sliding and losing a yard or two instead of falling forward as to why Garcia is running the way he's running. Spurrier says there's a difference between falling forward and diving helmet first into the defender.
"We ask him to get on the ground. We don't ask him to take on tackles. We ask them to get on the ground. I've never seen any player in college football duck his head the way Stephen does. Stephen's a pretty good runner with the ball and made some positive yards at the right time (Saturday night)."
The biggest bright point in the game offensively was the play of Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery had eight catches for 192 yards and two touchdowns. He now leads the country in receiving yards. Spurrier says that - while Jeffery has played well - there are other guys he wants to get the ball to, namely Ace Sanders.
"Alshon's doing fine. The rest of the guys are doing OK - probably need to play Ace Sanders more - but yeah Alshon's doing fine. He works hard in practice as does all the guys."
Spurrier was not happy with the offensive line play. Often times Garcia - and Shaw - were running for their lives because of pressure from Auburn's defensive line, particularly outside.
"Our pass protection wasn't very good the other night," Spurrier said. "It was tough out there."
The protection must get better when #1 Alabama rolls into town next Saturady. Nick Saban's defense will be hard to stop if there's little to no help up front. Spurrier isn't sure why the offensive line isn't performing well and gave a response Gamecock fans have heard far too often regarding the offensive line.
"We're stuck with what we got," Spurrier said. "I don't have an answer. You need to ask Coach Elliot that. Maybe we just can't block guys well enough to allow our quarterbacks to stand back there a long time. That's why we've got to run it and mix it up."
Despite all the miscues and sub-par play, the Gamecocks had a chance to win the game and just couldn't get the job done. Perhaps if the Gamecocks wanted it as bad as the Tigers wanted, the outcome could have been different.
"I told one of our guys today ‘we're not benching you,'" Spurrier said. "But when losing begins to hurt these guys as much as it hurts some of us, we'll have a good team at South Carolina. But I'm not convinced losing hurts these guys much or else they'd play better. They'd really play their assignments and play better. They're either not smart enough to play or losing doesn't hurt."