STARKVILLE, Miss. — South Carolina was rolling along pretty well until the past week when the dismissal of veteran quarterback Stephen Garcia made unwanted headlines.
Mississippi State would like nothing more than to keep the bad news coming for the Gamecocks.
The Bulldogs (3-3, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) host No. 15 South Carolina (5-1, 3-1) today at Davis Wade Stadium. It will be South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw’s third career start and his first since Garcia’s suspension-riddled career ended.
Shaw, a 6-foot-1, 204-pound sophomore, regained the starter’s role and led South Carolina to a 54-3 victory over Kentucky. He became the first Gamecocks quarterback to throw for four TDs in a game since 2006.
The Bulldogs haven’t surrendered a touchdown in the past six quarters and appear to be regaining top form.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said he expects Mississippi State will be confident, despite a 0-3 start in the league.
“They still believe they’ve got a real good team that just hasn’t played all that well yet,” Spurrier said. “So they’re going to be tough, they’re going to be ready to play.”
South Carolina played its best football in last week. Now the Gamecocks are trying to keep Garcia’s dismissal from stopping momentum.
“I think it’s always hard when you lose a teammate,” said defensive assistant coach Ellis Johnson. “These guys have a lot of feelings for Stephen and it’s something you wish wouldn’t have happened, but I think they’ve moved on and are trying to focus on what’s at hand and go ahead and get ready for Saturday. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it.”