Gamecocks sticking with Garcia at QB

COLUMBIA --- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier second-guessed himself on his decision to start Stephen Garcia in a high-pressure, nationally televised situation after the freshman quarterback took six sacks, fumbled and threw an interception in a 24-17 loss to then No. 13 LSU.

But Garcia will get another chance to redeem himself. Spurrier said after Saturday night's game that Garcia will remain the starter when the team returns to action after its upcoming bye week.

"We put the ball in the hands of a freshman quarterback who hadn't started before, and it didn't work out how we wanted," Spurrier said.

"We'll regroup and try to get ready for Tennessee."

Garcia didn't shy away from admitting his mistakes in the loss. A fast LSU pass rush caused havoc in the Gamecocks' backfield and South Carolina didn't score in the second half.

"It was pretty rough. They adjusted and started coming with a pretty big blitz, and I just never checked out of it and didn't call timeouts," Garcia said. "I got hit way too many times, and that's pretty much my fault."

LSU's Tyson Jackson broke through the line for two sacks and Curtis Taylor -- who also made a game-sealing interception late in the fourth quarter -- Alem Rahim and Tremaine Johnson recorded one sack apiece.

"The defense had a lot of swagger," LSU coach Les Miles said. "They were awfully strong that second half. If we play like that -- offense, defense and special teams -- we will play anybody in the country."

That's the kind of opposition Garcia faced in his first college start. South Carolina managed only 42 yards of total offense in the second half against LSU, which bounced back from a 30-point loss to Florida a week earlier.

"They just brought more people than we could block. It's as simple as that," Garcia said. "I should have checked. I talked to coach Spurrier after the game, and he was telling me even if I don't check, just throw the ball away. Don't keep getting hit like that. That's my fault."

Garcia's performance, which also included 14 completions for 215 yards and a touchdown, wasn't bad enough to lose hope in the 20-year-old redshirt freshman. Spurrier saw enough promise to immediately decide to keep Garcia in the starting lineup.

"He was learning," Spurrier said. "It was all learning for him tonight."

Garcia got the occasional earful from Spurrier after a turnover or sack, but the QB said it was a beneficial experience.

"He was helpful," Garcia said. "He was trying to teach me and coach me just like in practice. He yelled at me a couple of times about taking sacks and rightfully so. I'll just learn and go from there."

South Carolina (5-3) dropped to 2-3 in Southeastern Conference play with home games against Tennessee and Arkansas remaining as well as road trips to Florida and Clemson.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.

BCS BEGINS AGAIN

NEW YORK --- Georgia, a preseason favorite to win the national championship, was ranked No. 7 in the first BCS standings released Sunday.

The Bulldogs (6-1) beat Vanderbilt 24-14 on Saturday and have won two in a row since losing to Alabama on Sept. 27.

Georgia Tech (6-1) was No. 18 in the BCS standings after a 21-17 win at Clemson on Saturday.

Texas held the top spot in the BCS standings , and Alabama was a solid second.

The Longhorns are way ahead of the field, as expected, and appear in position to play in the BCS title game Jan. 8 in Miami if they can stay unbeaten.

Penn State, Oklahoma and Southern California round out the top five.

-- Associated Press

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