There's been a lot of discussion over the past couple of days regarding what gets the blame for South Carolina's current offensive woes: quarterbacking, offensive line play, or scheme?
Yesterday, I said that I think "offensive identity," by which I mean scheme, is the problem. I want to qualify that assertion. I do think that scheme is a major issue for this team. If we had embraced the run in the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon, we likely win the football game. Why we failed to do that is beyond me. Of course, the fact that Auburn was stacking the box had a lot to do with it. However, late in the game, after having watched Stephen Garcia play poorly all afternoon and needing to bleed the clock, there was no other choice as I see it.
All of that said, I don't think scheme is the biggest problem for this offense. If we had given Marcus Lattimore the ball late, we probably win the game, but we would still have all the same problems we have this morning. We'd be undefeated, which is a major consideration, but the rest of the season would still be in doubt. The problem for this team is quarterbacking. After watching Garcia struggle all season long to get the ball to his receivers with any modicum of accuracy, opposing defensive coordinators have figured out a very simple way to slow down our offense--stack the box, take Lattimore out of the game, and make Garcia beat you. Garcia has utterly failed to do so, confirming the wisdom of the approach. With Garcia at the helm, this was going to be a problem regardless of whether we beat Auburn or not.
I don't buy that the problem is offensive line play. The line has played poorly for two straight games, to be sure. However, most lines would have trouble opening running lanes against eight-man fronts. The offensive-line penalties have hurt us, too, but does anyone really think those are why we lost Saturday? Simply put, having a QB who could make even the easiest throws would make this offensive line look a heckuva lot better than it looks right now, because it would force defenses to respect the pass and thus would give Lattimore the room he needs to make plays.
Is Connor Shaw the answer? I have no idea. I do know, though, that we have to do something.