As most of you are probably aware, speed-demon WR Damiere Byrd will make his debut this weekend for the Gamecocks. Byrd was suspended for the first four games of the season due to his involvement in the SAM Foundation affair. A lot of folks are very excited about this return after hearing stories about how he lit up the practice field in August. But can Byrd really help the anemic Gamecocks passing game?
On the one hand, I (along with Leftover Hot Dog) think the answer is yes. Byrd, in a nutshell, is Bryce Sherman with better football skills. As well all know, he's lightening fast, but what's also important is that he's a smart player who runs good routes in order to create separation between himself and a defender. That's why he was rated the 19th WR in the country coming out of high school and had offers from places like Florida and Wisconsin. It's also why he was one of the most productive WRs during the Gamecocks' pre-fall camp. Our secondary, in a nutshell, couldn't cover this guy.
That said, I don't think we should get too excited about Byrd just yet. The question is whether or not we can get the ball in his hands. I won't be surprised at all if we see Byrd break through the secondary on a seam route or two over the course of the game, particularly considering the number of breakdowns Auburn's defense has exhibited so far and the fact that their safeties, like those of other teams we've seen, will likely be spying on Alshon Jeffery all afternoon. What will impress me is if Garcia manages to hit the kid downfield--heck, at this point, it will impress me if Garcia manages to see him open. Garcia's field vision and accuracy are way off right now, and that doesn't bode well for getting the ball to Byrd deep. Gamecocks fans should remember that although Ace Sanders has a similar profile to and plays the same position as Byrd, Garcia has failed to hit him deep. And Sanders, due to experience, is probably better than Byrd.
Of course, we can hope that Garcia gets into a rhythm and manages to make a few nice passes downfield. We can also hope that Byrd doesn't only get looks in the deep game; he's also well-suited to many other types of plays that take advantage of his speed. Just don't be surprised if he doesn't end up having the huge impact that some are expecting.