Want to know one additional reason why beleaguered QB Stephen Garcia should start against Alabama?
Check out his passer efficiency rating. Garcia ranks 20th in the country in this important category, with numbers approaching those of some of the NCAA's elite QBs. Granted, some of Garcia' efficiency owes to how much mileage we've gotten out of the short passing game, but you can't just forget about the role he's playing there because that partially owes to the work that our blockers and other skill-position players are doing.
The fact is that this offense is playing quite well with Garcia at the helm, probably as well as we've seen a USC offense play since late in 2006. The only thing holding us back are Garcia's turnovers; if we could eliminate those, we'd have one of the best offenses in the SEC. Of course, we've been hoping for a long time that Garcia would begin to figure out how to protect the ball, and the fact that he has yet to do so makes you wonder if he ever will. But some of the reports out of practice this week have suggested that he may be learning his lesson this time, just as he seems to have learned his lesson about forcing throws. There's nothing like costing your team a huge road win for teaching a player to eliminate a bad habit. I'll admit that I'm skeptical, but I'm holding out hope for the guy. If nothing else, he's a fighter and I'd like to believe in him.
This isn't only a defense of Garcia; it's a reason for hope overall. If the offense keeps pace and Garcia eliminates turnovers to some degree and our defense improves, and I believe it will as Shaq Wilson gets healthier and Ellis Johnson works to find the right lineup, we could win a lot of games with Garcia. Don't lose your faith yet.