Friday, September 02, 2011
Here we go again: Steve Spurrier's contentious relationship with his QBs
Well, it didn't take long for Steve Spurrier to lose patience with Stephen Garcia this year. Instead of waiting until the fourth quarter against the eventual national champions in a winnable game, Spurrier opted to go with Connor Shaw as his starting quarterback from day one, naming the sophomore the leading man for this Saturday's showdown with East Carolina. While Garcia truly is a knucklehead, I still believe he gives the Gamecocks the best chance to win. What if Shaw performs as he did in that 4th quarter against Auburn (2 INT)? Does Spurrier go back to Garcia before the first quarter draws to a close? And what message does that send?
Of course, this isn't the first time Spurrier has gotten fickle about who will quarterback his team. In 1989, Billy Ray and Dave Brown essentially split the job (although I don't know if an injury caused the split since Sports Reference/College Football doesn't give information about injuries or even games started, which is a pretty cruddy fact about a pretty awesome site). After Shane Matthews held down the job for Spurrier's first 3 seasons in Gainesville, Danny Wuerffel and Terry Dean split time in 1993 and 1994. Eric Kresser got 119 attempts to Wuerffel's 325 in 1995, which may have been due to an injury instead of a timeshare. In 1996, Wuerfell was clearly the man, as he won the Heisman and a national championship.
Two years after Wuerfell's departure, Doug Johnson and Jesse Palmer split the job in 1998, and to a lesser extent in 1999 (with Johnson getting the bulk of the work each season). Palmer then took over as the starter in 2000, but also had to split time with freshman Rex Grossman. Grossman was then clearly the man in 2001, Spurrier's last season at Florida before he made the jump to the NFL.
In 2002, Spurrier's first season as the Washington Redskins' head coach, old friends Danny Wuerfell and Shane Matthews split QB duties with rookie Patrick Ramsey, with Matthews starting 7, Ramsey 5, and Wuerfell 4. In 2003, the job was seemingly Ramsey's to lose with Matthews and Wuerfell jettisoned, and he eventually did lose it to Tim Hasselbeck, who started the only 5 games he would ever start that season. Unsurprisingly, timeshare QBs didn't work in the NFL, and Spurrier and the Redskins parted ways.
In 2005, Spurrier returned to the SEC in his current post as head man at South Carolina. Quarterback depth must have been lacking that season, because Blake Mitchell managed to take the vast majority of snaps without anyone even getting near him in terms of attempts. In 2006, the Ol' Ball Coach got back into his comfort zone, splitting snaps between Mitchell and converted wide receiver Syvelle Newton. Chris Smelley stepped in for Newton in 2007 (with Mitchell still getting the majority of snaps), and in 2008 Garcia made his first appearance, splitting time with Smelley.
In 2009, Garcia seemed to have earned Spurrier's trust, as he attempted all but 7 of the Gamecocks' passes. That trust was apparently betrayed by Garcia's two second half fumbles in the Auburn game last year, and he obviously has done nothing to win it back. This has all the makings of another split season at QB for Spurrier, who has never seemed to get the system to work outside of Gainesville.
The moral of this story is that I'm glad I took East Carolina at +20.5.