In a move everyone was expecting, Steve Spurrier has benched Stephen Garcia for this weekend's game against Kentucky. "Barring injury", the coach said, Connor Shaw will start and play the whole game.
Making jokes about Spurrier rotating quarterbacks has become hackneyed in recent years, though Spurrier himself has done as much as anyone to kill that particular line of humor. However for the season so far, Garcia's passing efficiency (107.7), completion percentage (51.7%), touchdown percentage (3.93%), and interception percentage (7.63%) are all career worsts.
The whole offense is struggling as a result. Bill Connelly pointed out that the Gamecocks' offensive Success Rate+ rank (which measures how well you move the ball from down-to-down depending on the distance) is at the lowest of Spurrier's tenure in Columbia. Alshon Jeffery and Ace Sanders have seen their catch rates fall as well. Some of the Head Ball Coach's quarterback shuffling hasn't made complete sense over the years, but Garcia earned this trip to the pine.
The question now is whether Shaw has earned his promotion. Spurrier has often praised Shaw's performance in practice, but it hasn't translated well into game situations yet. He didn't set the world on fire in his spot duty as a freshman last year, and he didn't look very good in his quarter-plus of work against a pretty bad East Carolina defense earlier this year.
Kentucky is about as good a team as any to test drive a new signal caller against, and maybe Shaw will do better knowing he won't have to look over his shoulder. South Carolina had better hope so if it plans on repeating as East division champs. The tiebreaker it holds over Georgia looks bigger with every passing day.