AUBURN AL - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Stephen Garcia #5 of the South Carolina Gamecocks rushes upfield against Craig Stevens #46 and Antoine Carter #45 of the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 25 2010 in Auburn Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Well, folks, we have a week off before the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide come to town. You may remember that a couple of years back, we had an off week to lick our wounds before traveling to Clemson after getting manhandled by Florida in the Swamp. These two moments have more in common than having an off week between tough games. Now as then, we have a QB controversy on our hands. Back then, I did a series discussing which QB, between Chris Smelley and Stephen Garcia, I liked to start against Clemson. I'm going to do the same now. Here's a quick rundown of arguments for and against starting Garcia over young Connor Shaw. You can add your own and we can talk it out in the comments section.
Garcia has more experience. He started a few games in 2008, all of last season, and so far this season. He's played in many big SEC games and knows what to expect from a team like Alabama.
Garcia is better at making reads in the secondary. I doubt he would have thrown the first INT that Shaw threw against Auburn. This comes from his experience learning to read college-level coverages.
When Garcia is on, he's on. See first half of Auburn game.
Despite his experience and impressive career statistics, Garcia has rarely led us to big wins. Perhaps experience playing in big games, no matter how close you come, doesn't mean a whole lot when you can't make the plays you need to make to win the games.
Garcia is a liability when he runs the ball. We all know this by now. But it's worth repeating, regardless. The mobile Garcia should be an asset to a team that has tended to have poor pass protection, but his decision-making skills when faced with the rush are unfathomably bad. Moreover, it's hard to believe that they're going to improve when he's still doing some of the same things he did back in 2008 in the second half against LSU. Shaw, on the other hand, seems to have good pocket presence and is better at running the zone-read option.
When Garcia is off, he's off. He's easily rattled when things get hairy, and no matter how well things are going at points, things always get hairy at some point against good SEC teams.