Connor Shaw really hasn't thrown the ball very well on the road

Connor Shaw's ability to throw on Saturday could decide who starts out SEC play 1-0. - Streeter Lecka

A quick look at the numbers bear out that a message board meme that's taken root this week is based in reality.

comment to an earlier post got me looking into just how well Connor Shaw has played on the road during his time at Carolina.  To be fair to Shaw, this is obviously a very small sample size, since he's only played seven road games, and two of them came against elite defenses.  But I thought it'd be interesting to see just how well or poorly he's played away from Williams-Brice Stadium.

The answer is mixed, in my opinion.  Shaw clearly struggled on the road in 2011 against three very average pass defenses, jumping into the role as a sophomore, and folks expected improvement from him in 2012.  And forgotten to many fans, he actually showed that in the first two games of that season.

But against the top-tier defenses of Florida and LSU last season, Shaw bottomed out.  As the table below shows, his performances at LSU and Florida looked a lot more like the 2011 Shaw than the guy who helped us fire out of the gate with a 6-0 start last season.  While he didn't roll up big numbers against Vanderbilt (in part due to injury), he certainly was the key to us putting together just enough offense to escape Nashville with a win, as Dylan Thompson was not capable at all in his limited time in the game.  And he was pretty decent against Kentucky as well, and would be even better were it not for the one constant issue that continues to get Shaw - too many sacks taken.

Opponent S&P Pass D Shaw Yds.* Shaw Att.* Yds./Att. Sack Yds.
Vanderbilt 24th 63 12 5.25 4
Kentucky 67th 128 21 6.10 20
LSU 7th 147 38 3.87 30
Florida 5th 62 22 2.82 10
Miss. St. 35th 141 31 4.55 14
Tenn. 54th 74 21 3.52 13
Ark. 49th 93 30 3.10 35

*These totals include sacks.

Obviously there's room for improvement from Shaw, who if you're wondering opened the 2013 campaign with 21 adjusted passing attempts for 139 adjusted yards.  I won't defend 6.6 yds./att. as an outstanding passing game, but that hasn't been our bread and butter with Shaw under center.  He ran for over 40 yards in 5 games last year despite a severely hobbled foot, and hit 43 yards on 12 carries last game as well.  The biggest concern I have from his performance last game is that once you take out the Shaq Roland TD, Shaw just wasn't moving the ball downfield enough when he had the ball in his hands - averaging 3.7 adjusted yds./att. - which placed additional pressure on our running game (which as we know was more than up to the task).

So while Shaw has struggled on the road, it's worth remembering he's also struggled at home, and that in some ways this is just what our offense is right now.  That said, if he's able to put together a big game on Saturday, it'll be awfully difficult for the Georgia Bulldogs to overcome that when it's combined with our potent running game and elite defense.  Let's hope he puts it all together in Athens.

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