Stephen Garcias Last Chance
WILL HE LEAD?
40 usc VS east carolina: 2011 season openerusc VS east carolina: 2011 season opener
42 OpponentPreview:EastCarolina 43 GamedayPoster 46 ExplainingTheGame:JohnButler 47 SeniorProfile:JasonBarnes 48 GamecockCentral.comsRecruittoWatch:ShaqRoland 49 ItsPredictionTime!
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ONTHECOVER: stephen Garcia returns as Gamecocks quarterback for a fifth season. PhotobyPaulCollins.
Will he lead?stephen Garcias last chance
coVer storY, p. 44
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GEORGE ROGERS BLVD S. STADIUM ROAD
42 usc VS east carolina: 2011 season openerusc VS east carolina: 2011 season opener
conference: Conference USA
2010 record: 0-0 (6-7 in 2010)
2011 conference Usa record: 0-0 (5-3 in 2010)
series record:South Carolina leads 10-5
coach: Ruffin McNeill
Years as coach: 2
career recordat ecU: 6-7
oVerall careerrecord: 7-7
Whats at stakeGetting off to a good start. In a season
thats expected to be the greatest in South Carolina history, getting upset by a mid-
major team in the first game would not be the way to prove the team is ready. It might take the Gamecocks out of contention for a BCS bowl right away,
and would definitely raise the pressure for each week going forward. East Carolina, like all
opponents, wants to play the spoiler, especially with two more major teams coming up over the next three games. The Gamecocks have to be spot-on from the start.
WhY You should hate themThey used to employ Skip Holtz, who was credited as an offensive genius for running the ball on every play when he was at USC. Their baseball team had the bad sense to beat USC in the 2009 NCAA Regionals. They call themselves the Pirates and are located in Greenville, N.C., home to such dastardly swashbucklers as nobody. And they used to beat USC like it stole something in the late 1990s, before the administration wised up and stopped scheduling them.
2011 schedule:9/3 South Carolina (at Charlotte)9/10 VIRGINIA TECH9/24 UABH 10/1 NORTH CAROLINA10/8 at HoustonH
10/15 at MemphisH
10/22 at Navy10/29 TULANEH
11/5 SOUTHERN MISSH
11/12 at UTEPH
11/12 at MarshallH
H Conference USA game
last meetinG:East Carolina 21, South Carolina 3(Sept. 18, 1999, at Columbia)
usc VS east carolina: 2011 season opener 43usc VS east carolina: 2011 season opener
44 usc VS east carolina: 2011 season openerusc VS east carolina: 2011 season opener
Hero or villain? Best that ever was or what might have been? Golden god or mis-creant? Legend or loser?
Its up to him. I had a rough spring, Garcia said.
Thankfully, I had Marcus [Lattimore] and Alshon [Jeffery] and the rest of the play-ers on the team that took to their Twitter accounts and Facebook [to support me]. It really put in my head how much I love these guys. Im very thankful to still be here.
South Carolinas incumbent quarterback has said at least, said when he has been allowed to speak how grateful and appre-ciative he is of yet another chance to play for the Gamecocks, following the fourth and fifth suspensions of his checkered career during spring practice. Since returning to USC in May and being fully reinstated to the team just before preseason camp began, Garcia has said he is done with outside distractions and is walking the straight line of behaving himself, concentrating solely on football and leading USC to what is ex-pected its greatest season in history.
He very well might. It was easy to believe Garcia as he sat at the table during Media Day, saying he had finally come to terms with severe issues with maturity and focus, but it was all behind him now. Talking with the quarterback that day, it seemed that it was a mere baby step for him to take over his rightful place atop the USC passing charts.
past the past?The problem is his past. It will never go
away. While Garcia swears he is done with the shenanigans, he said the same thing after his third suspension. And his fourth.
Scarcely two weeks after the fourth, he was asked to leave an athletic seminar due to being rude and disruptive, while numer-ous sources have confirmed that Garcia had alcohol on his breath. That triggered his suspension, which Coach Steve Spurrier, Athletics Director Eric Hyman and USC President Harris Pastides each signed off on, sending Garcia home to sort it all out.
Back at that little seminar, it kind of got a little crazy towards the end and the guy asked me to leave, Garcia says. I left.
He called the moderator the next day to apologize, but didnt realize what was about to occur. I didnt think it was going to be this kind of a deal, but it happened, he said.
Spurrier told him that he was welcome to transfer if he wanted to, subtly suggesting that a fresh start might be the best option for everyone involved. Garcia thought about it until his teammates took to their social media outlets to defend him, saying they loved and supported him no matter what he was going through.
That caused him to hesitate, then re-commit. He took the list of conditions USC gave him in order to be reinstated, accom-plished them and came back.
Going into his fifth season, quarterback
stephen Garcia says hes focused
on the team, not his personal legacy.
phOtO by pAuL cOLLiNS
B Y D A V I D C L O N I N G E R
stephen Garcias last chanceWILL He LeAD?
so here he stands, back for a fifth season and a sixth chance. Stephen Garcia knows this is the last shot for him to cement his legacy.
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Battle-hardened and readyNow comes the easy part proving
he is worth it.That game cant come soon enough,
Garcia said fervently after a recent scrim-mage. Im here, so thats a start. Its gone pretty well, I think.
There has never been any doubt that Garcia is the Gamecocks quarterback this season. He has the numbers, the experience and the on-field toughness that draws re-spect from teammates and opponents alike. The fearless way that Garcia can command a game and turn a lost-yardage play into a gain is well documented.
But is he The Quarterback? The one who leads the team? Thats the question that has dogged Garcia throughout his career, due to his off-the-field mistakes.
He has his good days and his bad days, just like all of our quarterbacks do, Spur-rier said during preseason camp. Some-times he makes all the throws, sometimes he cant get the ball out of his hand.
Spurriers comments on Garcia are usually about the technical side of quarter-backing, with the coach sniping recently that he didnt need to say anything, since the scrimmage was open and everybody saw what Garcia was doing.
Everybody always thinks Im criticizing him, Spurrier said. That day, since Garcia didnt look too sharp, Spurrier didnt need to say anything.
in search of consistency and leadership
The Xs and Os tell themselves. Garcia plays the game fast and loose, Joe Montana one day and Joe Blow the next. He needs 3,201 yards this season to become USCs all-time passing yardage leader. Last year, he threw for 3,059.
Garcia knows what he needs to do; hes said how nice it would be to return some-time in the future and see his name etched onto the Northwest ramp of Williams-Brice Stadium.
The question is how well he leads on the field. As evidenced by his teammates con-stantly talking up his qualities, he has what he needs to do the job.
Hes a great leader, tailback Marcus Lattimore said during preseason camp. He takes charge in the huddle, he makes plays out there. We all love him.
Weve always supported him, sa