In the wake of South Carolina’s decision to change starting quarterbacks, sophomore starter Connor Shaw has at least one person in his corner beyond head coach Steve Spurrier.
“We need to support Connor Shaw,” said Gary Garcia, the father of senior quarterback Stephen Garcia.
Shaw’s start against East Carolina on Saturday will snap Stephen Garcia’s 28-game starting streak, but Gary Garcia doesn’t want that to cause any angst among the team’s players or fans, he said. He began worrying that might be happening after tuning into a Columbia-area radio show on the Internet on Friday morning and listening to fan calls, he said.
“The Garcia family supports Connor Shaw, and I think all Gamecock fans should support Connor Shaw and Coach Spurrier’s decision,” Gary Garcia said. “Don’t take this and make it a divisive issue.”
Stephen Garcia learned of Spurrier’s decision on Thursday afternoon, his father said.
“He didn’t take the initial news lightly as no competitor does, but I think he knows what has to happen now, which he has to have a positive attitude and a laser-like focus,” Gary Garcia said. “If Connor is meant to play, he’ll play. If Stephen is meant to play, he’ll play.”
Shaw will play the first quarter Saturday, and Garcia will play the second quarter, Spurrier said.
Thursday was an eventful day for the Garcia family as Stephen Garcia’s older sister gave birth to twin boys, making Stephen Garcia an uncle for the first time.
Garcia is third in school history with 6,753 passing yards and 43 passing touchdowns for his career. He is coming off his best season, a 3,059-yard campaign that featured career highs in touchdowns (20) and completion percentage (64.2), but his poor play in the final two games convinced Spurrier to open the competition this offseason.
Garcia was 35-for-62 with two touchdown passes and five interceptions in the final two games of 2010, a 56-17 loss to Auburn in the SEC Championship Game and a 26-17 defeat against Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Shaw completed 23 of 33 passes for 223 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions last season in his first year out of Flowery Branch High School in Georgia. Shaw, who won the job because he had a better preseason than Garcia, will be starting his first game against the Pirates.
“The only stat that matters is Ws,” Gary Garcia said. “At the end of the day, we want to get an SEC championship and a national championship.”