Garcia and Shaw continue competition

After taking Thursday off, the Gamecocks returned to practice Friday afternoon at the "Proving Grounds." The team officially began preparations for next Thursday's season opener against Southern Miss. Quarterback coach GA Mangus met with the media after practice to discuss the quarterback situation.

"The guy that is going to play and the guy that's going to finish is who gives us the best chance to win." Mangus said. "We haven't done a whole lot of hitting the quarterbacks hard, so I think the first game will give us a pretty good idea of where we're at."

GA has been particularly impressed with freshman quarterback Connor Shaw and the strides he has made early on in his collegiate career.

"He's had a nice camp." Mangus said of Shaw. "He still has a ways to go. He's done some right things out here and deserved a right to play."

Perhaps what impresses Mangus the most about Shaw is his decision making, especially for someone his age and experience level.

"He's got that 'it' factor in terms of decision making." Mangus said. "As a young player the most impressive thing that I've seen is his ability to make quick decisions. Especially since he only played quarterback for two years in high school."

Though starting a true freshman at quarterback in the SEC would not be unheard of, some Gamecocks fans are worried about having the pressure of the expectations of this team thrown on the shoulders of a freshman. However, Mangus says that there's a lot of freshmen playing skill positions in today's college game.

"As time's gone on I think you've seen more and more young skilled guys playing all across America." Mangus said.

Though Shaw has looked good so far in camp and has gotten a lot of praise from the media and Gamecock fans, Mangus insists that Stephen Garcia isn't ready to give up the job yet.

"Stephen's actually thrown the ball better lately and he's had a good week." Mangus said. "He's starting to hit some plays down the field better than what I've seen and that's encouraging. He's getting better at getting guys open with his eyes."

Mangus also thinks that Garcia's experience is an advantage he has as a veteran in the Spurrier offense.

"I don't think there's any question." Mangus said of Garcia's experience advantage over Shaw. "That is why I expect him to play well and play like the veteran his is. You would expect him to be better and I expect to see it next Thursday." Mangus says that regardless of who starts the game, it's more important to see who closes the game.

"The guy that is going to play and the guy that's going to finish is who gives us the best chance to win." Mangus said. "We haven't done a whole lot of hitting the quarterbacks hard, so I think the first game will give us a pretty good idea of where we're at. I expect both of them to play and play well."

When asked if he's worried about not having a starting quarterback named less than a week away from the first game, Mangus replied with a smile, "You guys just don't know who the starting quarterback's going to be."

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