Beecher's wait well worth it
Perseverance. Improvement. Tenacity. Faith in God.
No matter how one might choose to describe the key to Tommy Beecher's ascension from Ryan Succop's holder on placekicks to the Gamecocks' starting quarterback this fall, one thing is for certain: After three years spent primarily in the shadows, the Concord, N.C. native appears to be, borrowing here from military parlance, "ready, willing and able" to bring stability to a position that has been anything but a sure thing since Steve Spurrier's arrival.
"As a starter, my confidence will grow every day out there," Beecher explained Sunday during USC's annual Media Day. "We're getting better. Coach Spurrier has been here for three years now and we're getting more confident as a team. We're starting to buy into his system and have the potential to be be a great team if we can be disciplined and do our assignments."
Spurrier has indicated he plans to spend more practice time mentoring his young quarterbacks than he has during the previous three campaigns, thanks in part to the hiring of Ellis Johnson to run the Carolina defense. That's a move that Beecher believes will make an immediate impact on the Gamecocks' quarterback play this fall.
"Oh yeah, he's with us pretty much 100% of the time now", Beecher said. "Its great having him over here. He's got something to say about pretty much every play, something that we can learn. That's what I am concentrating on this year, focusing on what he has to say and trying to learn as much as I can from him and putting it into practice."
It is well documented that Beecher is a smart kid, carrying the team's highest highest GPA over the past year. That same intelligence can come in mighty handy when running Spurrier's "Cock-N-Fire" offense.
"I think one of the huge components to being a quarterback for Coach Spurrier is your ability to make good decisions out there," Beecher said, "and that comes from being sharp and realizing what coverage they're (defense) running. I think it's a huge advantage if you have a little bit of intelligence back there."
As for Spurrier's long-running frustration with his garnet and black signal-callers' inability to audible at the line of scrimmage, Beecher hopes his smarts will be beneficial, but cautions there is perhaps more to changing the play at the line of scrimmage than meets the eye.
"Its a little more difficult now because defenses are doing such a good job of disguising what they are doing," Beecher explained. "For the first few days of fall camp, all of the quarterbacks have been trying to recognize what the defense is doing and making sure we get to the best play that we can.
"I've been trying to do as many audibles as I can. Sometimes you get them right, sometimes you get them wrong. But the more and more comfortable you become with that, the easier it is on Saturdays to do it."
Not surprisingly, Beecher has a mature, even cerebral approach to the question of why it has taken this long for him to get his chance as the leader of the Carolina offense.
"The funny thing is," Beecher allowed, "is that a lot of people expect (quarterbacks) to come in to college and start right away. Its been a great opportunity for me to be here for three years, watch everyone else play a little bit, and get accustomed to Coach Spurrier's system. And now, as my fourth year approaches, being able to go out there and show what I have learned. When the opportunity approaches, you have to be ready to step up and play... the opportunity stepped up last spring and luckily I was able to get ahold of it."
So can this team make a splash this season in what many believe to be the toughest division in the nation's toughest conference? At least one person with an opportunity to make a direct impact on that outcome believes so.
"I think we have the talent to do some big things in the SEC this year," Beecher surmised. "Like I've said before, we have to do our assignments, be disciplined, make good decisions. If we can do that, we can make some noise in the SEC this year."
For #6, it will be well worth the wait.
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