AUBURN AL - SEPTEMBER 25: Head coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks walks to congratulate quarterback Stephen Garcia #5 for his passing touchdown against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 25 2010 in Auburn Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
This is the final part in a series on our QB controversy. As you know by now, Steve Spurrier has ended the controversy for the time being by naming Stephen Garcia the starter. That's the right choice. It's not necessarily that Garcia is better than Connor Shaw. I've seen enough of Shaw so far this year to believe that he's a very solid QB, and I think we'd be even more impressed with him if we got to see a game's worth of action from him when we weren't trying to come back from a deficit. He can run our base offense very well. Is he better than Garcia? I'm honestly not sure.
However, a game against a potentially top-ranked Alabama team isn't the right place to find the answer to that question. We know that Garcia gives us a chance to compete in this game, and that's why we should go with him. We just don't know yet about Shaw, and if we put him in the game and he makes a couple of freshman mistakes, we would know we didn't make the right decision.
I also think it's worth noting that Garcia is a much better player at home. He's had some of his best performances at home in big games against teams like Ole Miss, Florida, and Clemson, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him bounce back from the Auburn debacle and do that again against Alabama. Who knows? Maybe, unlike against Florida this year, he'll finish the job this time.
All of this said, I'm not against playing Shaw is Garcia is off, and I'm not against starting Shaw in an easier game like Kentucky. That would give us a better chance to see what he can do and whether or not he's a viable candidate for lots of snaps in bigger games. (I should note that this isn't exactly meant to be a knock on Kentucky, who I think could very well beat us; if we lose to them though, I suspect it will be because of defensive failures.) I'm not at all buying the idea that Garcia is clearly a better QB right now than Shaw; I just don't think the Alabama game is the right game to give him his tryout.