Trouble in Gamecock Country

Posted: October 5, 2011 in South Carolina Gamecocks
Tags: , , , , ,

Anyone who’s surprised the Steve Spurrier-Stephen Garcia marriage has been rocky and, in fact, may finally be over hasn’t been paying close attention to the Ol’ Ball Coach’s career.

Spurrier is a ball coach. More specifically, he’s a passing game coach. One thing he is not is a babysitter. I’ve heard him say on more than one occasion it was his job to coach and the players’ job to follow orders and be responsible for their behavior on and off the field.

And, Lord knows, Garcia needs babysitting.

Spurrier announced this week he’s benching Garcia, his fifth-year senior quarterback who leads the nation with nine interceptions. Even though South Carolina is 4-1 after losing at home to Auburn last Saturday, the Gamecocks have struggled offensively most of the season. Spurrier doesn’t handle poor quarterback play very well and is well known for benching his signal-callers. This isn’t Garcia’s first benching but it may well be his last.

To say Garcia has tested Spurrier’s patience is an understatement. He has been suspended five times during his time at South Carolina, twice in his first two months on campus and his last shortly after completing his fourth year.

Garcia has one thing Spurrier can’t resist: talent. He does several things Spurrier despises: partying, taking too many chances on the field and lacking his coach’s intense love of the position.

The perfect Spurrier quarterback isn’t always incredibly talented. During his 12 years at Florida he won a string of SEC championships (and one national championship) with Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel. As different as Matthews and Wuerffel are as people, they were like twins when it came to playing quarterback for Spurrier. Their faith it what Spurrier taught them was unshakable.

Which Gator quarterback caused Spurrier more headaches than any other? Doug Johnson, who was his most physically gifted passer. Now, Johnson wasn’t in Garcia’s league as a loose cannon, but he was close. Johnson was often benched during his Gator career and was in a constant battle with Jesse Palmer to retain his starting job.

Another example of a Gator quarterback who never seemed to understand and mesh with Spurrier was Terry Dean, who soon lost his starting job to Wuerffel. To the contrary, Noah Brindise had little talent, but in every other way was a Spurrier clone. As a result, Brindise actually played some meaningful minutes.

I reported Garcia wouldn’t be back for his final season when he was suspended last winter. After spring practice and a long look at sophomore Connor Shaw, Spurrier went against his own best judgment allowed Garcia to return to the team. He tried to keep him on the bench by starting Shaw in the season opener, but Shaw obviously was as unimpressive as he’d been in spring drills and Garcia was back under center before the season was two quarters old

Now Shaw has the job again. That’s not good news for Gamecock followers.

 

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