Garcia ready for return trip to Athens

The No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks are preparing for their SEC opener with the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia slipped out of the top 25 this week with a loss to Boise State and will take on the Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium on Saturday. It will be quarterback Stephen Garcia's second career start in Athens.

The Gamecocks are hoping to follow Boise State's lead after the Broncos defeated Georgia 35-21 lat weekend, but that will be no easy task in Athens.

Fifth-year senior quarterback Stephen Garcia will make his second career start between the hedges.

In Garcia's only other start at Sanford Stadium, the then-sophomore completed 31 of 53 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 42 yards on the ground. But South Carolina fell short losing a hard-fought 41-37 contest.

"It's a pretty wild atmosphere. You have 90,000 people booing everything you do," Garcia said.

"We had our shots," he added. "I don't really recall every play that happened two years ago. We had our shots. Unfortunately, we didn't come out with a win."

Garcia led the way for the Gamecocks' big recovery last week against ECU after losing out to Conner Shaw for the starting position for the first game.

"I didn't really say anything, really," Garcia said of his first time in the huddle Saturday. "I guess it was just my presence. I really don't know, to completely honest with you. I guess they're accustomed to me in the game situation."

Shaw had outperformed Garcia in the preseason, but Garcia came into the ECU game with confidence as a fifth year senior quarterback and helped pull the Gamecocks through. Coach Steve Spurrier was impressed with the way Garcia cleaned up for the game and hopes that Garcia will keep it up.

"Quarterbacks, everybody is looking at them, they need to be sharp, they need to do things right, and Stephen's made a lot of progress towards that," said Spurrier.

Garcia stepped up and showed Spurrier he was ready to take on the role as a team leader last week.

While Spurrier didn't give him a game ball following the ECU game, Garcia was named a team captain for this weekend for the first time in his career.

This season he is hoping the Gamecocks will play better offensively as a unit.

"This is a new team, like I said. We're just going to go out there with a completely different attitude," said Garcia.

Two very talented teams will be taking the field in the SEC rivalry game that will give one team a major leg up in the race for the division title.

"SEC East, it's a divisional game, and you want to start out 1-0, so I guess you can say it's personal," Garcia said.

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