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gamecocks 2008: In the pocket?


Ah, if it's summer, there must be a quarterback controversy in Columbia.

But this year, the Gamecocks are doing themselves two better. There are at least three quarterback controversies, by C&F's count.

Should Stephen Garcia remain on the team? If so, should he start ahead of Chris Smelley or Tommy Beecher? If not, should Smelley or Beecher start?

And don't forget that Aramis Hillary is floating around out there.

One might expect that Spurrier would be tempted to bring in Brett Favre after a disastrous spring game that makes you wonder whether the QBs were deceived about which color uniforms each squad would be wearing.

But Spurrier soon made it clear: Tommy Beecher would get the call. Right now. If the season started tomorrow. Which, of course, it does not.

Spurrier moved his announcement up four months from his stated deadline of August. In doing so, Head Ball Coach kicked up all kinds of speculation about his motives. Was he trying to send Garcia a message? Or was it perhaps a kick in the pants to Smelley?

So, how did 2008's possible-starting-if-the-season-began-today-which-it-doesn't QB do last year?

Games Comp-Att Percentage Yards TD Int Rating
12 14-23 60.9 175 1 1 130.43

Obviously, not a large sample size. And most of those numbers came from the oh-can-we-please-forget-it first game against Louisiana-Lafayette. In that game, Beecher was 11-of-15 (73.3 percent) for 137 yards, a TD and no INT. (He also had three completions and one pick in seven attempts against S.C. State and an incompletion against Florida.)

Ringing up a 4-2 record as a starter, Smelley gives us a little more to go on.

Games Comp-Att Percentage Yards TD Int Rating
7 92-162 56.8 1176 9 7 127.46

His six starts, including the five-attempt "start" at Tennessee when Spurrier abruptly decided to change signal-callers:

Comp-Att Percentage Yards TD Int
80-136 58.8 1,002 8 6

While C&F cannot calculate QB rating, and just averaging the starts seems lazy and inaccurate, he can say with some confidence that there is not much difference between Smelley's starts and his general performance. Beecher was marginally better against La-La, his most extensive action, than his overall numbers show, but that's largely because he spent little meaningful time in the other games.

Of course, Garcia did not play last year.

So what does any of this tell us?

Actually, it brings us pretty much back where we were to begin with. Beecher was not as horrible as Smelley at the spring game, and that appears to be the main reason for Spurrier's decision at this point.

A strong fall could still put Smelley or Garcia back in the driver's seat, though it's hard to see THE SAVIOR OF THE PROGRAM making up for the lost reps at this point.

And, of course, there is Spurrier's habit of subbing out QBs with little warning, which shows no signs of mellowing with age.

Get ready: This could get interesting.

Strike that.

This will get interesting.