As anticipation for the coming football season continues to grow there are many questions rolling around in the heads of Gamecock Nation. On offense these questions could be: is Marcus 100%? Is there a viable receiving corps? Will the offensive line be ready? Those are the main concerns, but did you know that Connor Shaw is a question mark? I didn’t.
John Pennington, the proprietor of the excellent MrSEC.com, has taken a look at the quarterback situations for all teams across the conference. He has then categorized the teams’ quarterback situations as Top Guns, Proven Commodities, Question Marks or Worry Warts. South Carolina and Connor Shaw have been categorized as question marks. They are lumped in with Zach Mettenberger and Maxwell Smith. You remember those guys, right? Mettenberger is the LSU JUCO transfer with talent but little experience. Maxwell Smith is the leader of Kentucky’s juggernaut offense.
Connor Shaw led a run first offense last season, and he is being underestimated this year because of it. Since he didn’t start part of the season his yardage numbers don’t jump off the page. (He had 1,448, 7th in the conference.) His numbers stack up quite a bit better in efficiency. Shaw’s rating was 148.3, good for second in conference and 0.1 behind the conference’s undisputed Top Gun, Tyler Wilson.
Why does Shaw continue to lack respect around the nation and around the conference? It’s not the numbers. In games Shaw started, South Carolina scored an average of 32 points. That output matches Georgia and Top Gun Aaron Murray. It’s the perception. Steve Spurrier’s offenses threw for so many yards and scored so many points during his golden days in Florida that South Carolina’s offense is never going to measure up. Compounding that perception are the public statements that the Gamecocks are a run first offense. 15 rushes a game by Shaw don’t exactly help his image as an elite passer either.
Before you inundate Mr. SEC with posts or emails letting him know he missed the mark, remember he’s not alone. Phil Steele didn’t have Shaw among his Top 4 SEC quarterbacks. Most national writers don’t have him high on the list either. All that being said, it’s not a problem. If people want to discount or undervalue Shaw, we can only hope opposing defensive coordinators will follow their lead and do the same. If they do then he can continue to complete more than 70% of his passes, like he did the last 3 games of last season. Then perhaps the question mark will be resolved for everyone.