COLUMBIA -- This is Connor Shaw's team now.
Shaw will make his second start at quarterback for South Carolina on Saturday against Kentucky, replacing fifth-year senior Stephen Garcia. But unlike in the season opener against East Carolina, Shaw won't have to worry about job security.
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier made that clear during Tuesday's weekly meeting with the media.
"We're giving Connor Shaw his chance to replace Stephen," Spurrier said. "We feel like Connor deserves a shot and see if he can perform at a higher level and get our offense going a bit."
Shaw took the first snaps of the season against East Carolina, but was replaced by Garcia in the second quarter in a pre-arranged scenario that was announced days before the game. Shaw was just 3 of 9 for 21 yards against the Pirates. Garcia rallied South Carolina from a 17-0 deficit and led the Gamecocks to a 56-37 victory.
Aside from a brief appearance in the fourth quarter against Vanderbilt two weeks ago where he attempted just two passes, Shaw has remained on the sidelines.
Unless Shaw is injured Saturday, it will be his game to finish.
"We're just going to go give him a chance to go play the game, make good decisions," Spurrier said. "He hasn't played a lot yet, so he needs to feel his way as he goes probably, but he's going to get a chance to go play."
The frustration has been building all season for the Head Ball Coach. The offensive weapons have been in place with running back Marcus Lattimore, the SEC's leading rusher, and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who still presents matchup nightmares for opposing secondaries. The problem for Spurrier has been finding a quarterback to distribute the ball and manage the game.
The grimaces and headset tossing on the sideline that have been Spurrier's trademark throughout this career had been building and were on full display the last two games against Vanderbilt and Auburn.
After watching another dismal performance from Garcia in Saturday's game against Auburn, Spurrier had seen enough and felt it was time for a change to jump-start the Gamecocks offense.
"(Shaw) doesn't have to try to win the game for us," Spurrier said. "We've got a good defense, but Connor needs to just take care of the ball, make smart decisions, throw it to our guys, take off running every now and then, hand it off, and we think he's capable."
In two games this season, Shaw completed 4 of 11 passes for 29 yards. Shaw played in nine games a year ago as a true freshman, completing 23 of 32 passes for 223 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Spurrier said Shaw has solid command of the Gamecocks' playbook.
"Connor's been here in his second year now, so he's familiar with everything, and hopefully we don't have to change a whole bunch while we're out there," Spurrier said. "He's practiced all the same plays."
As bad as Garcia looked at times against Auburn -- he was 9 of 23 for 160 yards and two interceptions -- Spurrier said he never gave serious consideration to inserting Shaw into the game. A year ago, Shaw saw his most significant playing time in the fourth quarter against Auburn when he was 4 of 8 for 70 yards with two interceptions.
"We were ahead," Spurrier said. "We had very poor field position almost the entire game. No, we did not think about it last week because we were ahead up until the final two minutes of the game."
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