In case you've been living under a rock the past three days, South Carolina's starting quarterback Stephen Garcia and back-up Andrew Clifford have been suspended for the first week of spring practice. The two quarterbacks will miss the first three practices and first scrimmage of the spring. That has opened the door - albeit briefly - for Connor Shaw and to a lesser extent Seth Strickland and Dylan Thompson. Obviously, Shaw is in a much better position than the other two to take the starting position from Garcia and has taken the most reps through the first two practices.
"He's going to come out here and do the same and act the same and play the same and compete with whoever's out here," Quarterback coach G.A. Mangus said following Thursday's practice. "He's gotten a lot of reps with only three of them out here. He's thrown a bunch and has shown some good things - getting underneath and making good decisions. That's what it's all about."
While the reaction on Garcia's latest incident among South Carolina fans are polarizing from it's not a big deal to it's time to to give the job to someone else, Shaw believes it's really not gonna be that big of a deal.
"It's just three days," Shaw said. "Of course I'm going to try and take advantage of it but it doesn't really change anything. I'm just out here competing. I'm doing what the coaches are telling me to do and they've been telling me to compete right now."
After shaking off some rust in Tuesday's practice and throwing several bad interceptions, Thursday was a different day. A much better day. Shaw's passes were more crisp, he was checking down to the second and third options, he was stepping up in the pocket and hitting the intended targets right in stride. Shaw completed a long pass to DeAngelo Smith on a post route 30+ yards downfield with Jimmy Legree - who has earned some looks over the winter - right on his heels. It was a pass that had to be on the money and Shaw put it there. Though there's no contact and Shaw doesn't have to worry about the likes of Devin Taylor, Melvin Ingram, Kelcy Quarles, and others breathing down his neck, Shaw seems to be much more comfortable with the playbook.
"I don't think it's more knowledge - it's just getting out here and playing," Mangus said. "You can sit there and memorize the playbook all you want, but really getting out here and being able to make the decisions takes playing and reps. I think that's what's good for him right now."
Shaw says it's been all about learning the playbook and meeting with the coaches.
"I've been meeting with Coach Mangus and Coach Spurrier throughout the winter offseason and spring practice so it's helped a lot."
Whether or not Shaw can overtake a fifth-year senior that has started 28 consecutive games at quarterback and is already third in school history in passing yards, completions and passing touchdowns remains to be seen, but he has a shot.
"I'm gonna shoot that way, but Garcia is in his fifth year and if it happens that way it happens," Shaw said. "Coach Spurrier harps on it's wide open in spring practice and everybody competes like it's their job to take so that's what we're all doing."
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