This is the final installment of a series on our QB controversy. This time around, at the risk of angering most of Gamecock Nation, Gamecock Man tells the Garcia Evangelicals to put a lid on it and support Chris Smelley.
Let me preface this by saying that I believe Stephen Garcia is our QB of the future. With a dazzling array of physical skills, Garcia has a higher ceiling than Smelley. If he spends his time in the film room and away from Five Points over the off-season, he could become a great QB, perhaps one of the best ever to don a Gamecocks uniform.
That said, based on what we've seen over the past few weeks, Spurrier is right when he says that Garcia is not ready. Chris Smelley, on the other hand and despite his shortcomings, has played with a certain degree of poise over the past few weeks. He may not have Garcia's physical tools, but he more than makes up for that with his mental edge on the freshman.
Is Smelley perfect? No. Does he throw too many interceptions? Yes. Is he less accurate and mobile than Garcia? Yes.
However, other than one or two drives against Tennessee, Garcia has done very little since the second quarter against LSU. For those of you who think Garcia is such a great player, tell me: has Garcia really done anything special other than in the fourth quarter against Kentucky and the second quarter against LSU? And no, UAB does not count. His lack of understanding of Spurrier's offense has been very obvious. Moreover, and contrary to popular belief, he's been sacked quite a few times; his mobility hasn't helped us all that much.
Smelley, on the other hand, has had a handful of periods of good play. He was great against NC State. He threw some bad passes against Vandy, but generally moved the ball fairly well in that game. He was good against UGA. He was a monster against Ole Miss. And since he's begun sharing snaps with Garcia over the past two weeks, he has clearly outperformed his young teammate.
This isn't to say that I'm sure I'm right about this. There are lots of good reasons to go with Garcia. This also isn't to say that I don't want Spurrier to keep Smelley on a short lease against Clemson. Spurrier's decision to pull Chris against Kentucky was a wise one, and if Smelley comes out and struggles against the Tigers, I hope SOS pulls him again. However, Smelley is the right choice to start this game and lead us to a second straight victory in Death Valley.