As frustrating as Stephen Garcia's two fumbles were Saturday night, I still don’t know why South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier pulled him in favor of a true freshman in such a tough situation on the road.
Simply, Garcia gives this team the best chance to win. I have seen enough of the Gamecocks this season to say that with conviction.
Spurrier has too, which is why he said Tuesday that he was sticking with Garcia as his starter when South Carolina returns to action in two weeks against Alabama. The Gamecocks have a bye this Saturday.
Garcia is far from perfect, and his penchant for making the critical mistake would drive any coach crazy. But he’s also done a better job of playing within himself for much of this season.
The next step is to quit taking off and running with his head down. If he doesn’t get out of that habit, two things are going to happen. He’s going to get hurt seriously, and he’s also going to lose his job for good to Connor Shaw.
Garcia has only thrown two interceptions through four games. His problem has been fumbling.
“He actually played three quarters pretty well, and then obviously the two fumbles were pretty bad plays,” Spurrier said. “Can he stop fumbling? We’re going to give him a chance to stop fumbling. He hasn’t thrown a lot of picks this year. So other than the fumbles, he’s played pretty decently.”
As peeved as Spurrier was about the four turnovers to end the game in the 35-27 loss to Auburn, he was even more upset with his offensive line. Like Garcia, the unit has been another of the Head Ball Coach’s frequent targets.
Spurrier lamented the pass protection in the Auburn game and also questioned the effort.
“When losing begins to hurt these guys as much as it hurts some of us, we’ll have a good team at South Carolina,” Spurrier said. “I’m not sure losing hurts some of these guys much. They would play their assignments and play better. That’s the only reason I know. They’re either not smart enough to play or losing doesn’t hurt them enough.
“Our guys look pretty good running out there, and then the ball is snapped. Sometimes we don’t compete hard enough.”
Spurrier has never been one to mince words.