SDS's Jon Cooper has a nice little piece up right now on Connor Shaw. The article is spot on in a variety of ways about The Gloved One. First of all, Shaw must, indeed, be the most underrated player in the SEC, if not college football more generally. Shaw ranked ninth in the nation last year in passer rating, ahead of uber-stars such as Johnny Manziel and Matt Barkley. His overall record as starter speaks for itself. Is it conceivable that the starting QB for a top 10 SEC program with such a higher QB rating could be granted less esteem by the media and, at times, his program's own fans?
Granted, he's the only one in the top 25 in that category who threw for less than 2000 yards, lending credence to the idea that he's a low-risk, moderate-output guy. On the other hand, the fact that he was so often negating poor offensive-line play by running for first downs and keeping the chains moving puts those numbers in a different light QB. I don't buy the argument that Shaw is incapable of leading a truly prolific offense, that we're always going to be limited with him at the helm. Granted, whether it be because of field vision of tentativeness, I don't think Shaw is going to morph into Johnny Football over the offseason. Spurrier may succeed in getting Shaw to take more calculated risks, but Shaw is not a gunslinger. However, he does bring to the table a combination of passing efficiency and a knack for running the zone read when he's healthy. His rushing skills were minimized by injuries and poor offensive line play last season, but this year may bring different outcomes there. If he stays healthy and the line gels, I could easily see Shaw having something approaching the kind of years Oregon's QBs have had in recent seasons.
Another thing I really appreciated about this article was the acknowledgment that there's really not much of a QB controversy. Yes, Dylan Thompson has proven to be all one could ever hope for in a backup QB, and Thompson indeed deserves some additional opportunities to shine on the field. I'll be seriously shocked, though, if Thompson receives serious consideration as the primary QB early next year unless we see a significant dropoff from Shaw when the season begins. It's probably not going to happen, folks. To me, the fact that Shaw got the vast majority of the snaps against Michigan until he went out with injury late in the game spoke volumes about Spurrier's confidence in Shaw, coming off the heels of Thompson's magical performance against Clemson. Of course, when the time came, Thompson proved himself yet again against Michigan, which is another reason why he deserves additional looks. But Shaw is "the guy" for the foreseeable future, as well he should be.