G.A. Mangus had succinct advice for starting quarterback Stephen Garcia about how he should handle his most recent suspension.
“Handle it, he’s 23 years old,” South Carolina’s quarterbacks coach said. “It’s time. I want him to put the pedal to the metal. He’s got nine months. I want him to put the pedal to the metal for nine months.”
Asked if he was disappointed Garcia’s final nine months with the program have started this way, he replied, “We’ll get it going next week, and, hopefully, we’ll move on from that.”
For now, Mangus’ attention is on the three Gamecocks quarterbacks who have not been suspended for the first week of spring practice, most notably sophomore Connor Shaw. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier made it clear even before Garcia’s suspension that Shaw would get a chance to compete for the starting job this spring.
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“They want everybody to compete like they are going to be the starter,” Shaw said Thursday after the team’s second spring practice. “Coach Spurrier harps on how it’s wide open in spring practice and everybody compete like it’s their job to take. I’m going to shoot that way, but, of course, Garcia is in his fifth year.”
Garcia’s suspension gives Shaw more opportunities in practice, but it’s a stretch to think that will swing the quarterback competition much, Mangus said.
“That’s reading too much into it,” he said. “Connor is a competitor. He’s going to come out here and act the same and play the same and compete whoever is out here.”
Shaw has performed well in the first two practices, Mangus said.
“We have gotten a lot of reps with only three of them out here,” Mangus said. “He’s throwing it a bunch and has done some good things. You can sit there and memorize the playbook all you want, but really getting out here and being able to make the decision takes playing and reps (is what helps).”
Shaw’s comfort level with the offense has risen dramatically since the fall, he said.
“I’m shaking off the cobwebs a little bit, a little rusty at times, but it feels good to be back out here,” he said.
Shaw completed 23 of 33 passes for 223 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in relief of Garcia last season. He will do his best, he said, to capitalize on his time with the coaches’ undivided attention, but, like Mangus, he doesn’t see it as a major advantage.
“It’s just three days, really,” Shaw said. “Of course, I am going to take advantage of it, but it doesn’t really change anything.”
Shaw will get most of the snaps in the Gamecocks’ scrimmage Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. Shaw’s teammates have noticed a more confident quarterback this spring, several said.
“In the past, he was a little bit skeptical,” sophomore tailback Marcus Lattimore said, “but now he is throwing the ball with confidence, throwing the ball on time and feeling good.”
G.A. Mangus, Connor Shaw post-practice comments