Underrate. What does that mean? Webster’s defines it as ‘to rate too low’.
For me, ‘The Warrior’ is one of the most underrated movies ever, while The Beatles are certainly not underrated.
Connor Shaw fits the underrated description to a T. He’s continually the most overlooked and easily dismissed player in the SEC.
Despite the waging ‘quarterback controversy’ propaganda fans and media keep propelling about backup extraordinaire Dylan Thompson, Connor Shaw is still the starting quarterback. And while he’s out for spring practice recovering from foot surgery, the talk has only just begun to heat up.
Shaw grips the underachieving torch held by former Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy, who, for two straight seasons, eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark to lead the Dores to a nine-win season.
Shaw’s a throwback player from way back. A nitty-gritty, chip-on-the-shoulder, non-flashy workaholic who does one thing well: wins. Hell, Steve Spurrier has even changed his whole offensive identity and strategy around for his suitor in Shaw, the son of a coach, because he wins.
Shaw is 17-3 as a starter and 10-0 at home, and yet we still want to talk about how Thompson deserves to be the starter. Thompson has been good, and he’s been humble about being the backup the entire time. And to Thompson and Shaw’s credit, the duo has made it work.
Shaw has completed 300 of 449 passes (66.8 percent) for 3,627 yards, 32 touchdowns and 15 INTs in his three-year career. He had a career game against Missouri in 2012, completing 20 of 21 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and he led the Gamecocks to a 35-7 romp over Georgia, completing just six passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns.
Skeptics abound ever since Shaw took over for Stephen Garcia with a glove on his throwing hand and the no-lace grip. Guilty as charged.
The idea of stopping Shaw is simple really: take away his ability to scramble on plays that break down, and you beat him – you beat South Carolina. It’s so simple that only three of the last 20 teams he’s started against accomplished it.
We’re getting used to the fact – like it or not – that South Carolina is competing for championships annually. That never happened pre-Spurrier. Shaw’s the heart and soul of the team, especially during Marcus Lattimore’s absence for much of the last two seasons.
The 90s’ Spurrier would have already benched Shaw. Better yet, the 90s’ Spurrier may not even have given Shaw an opportunity to ever start. He’s too short; he’s too mobile for the offense and maybe his arm isn’t that strong. He doesn’t measure up to or meet expectations of a typical Spurrier pocket passer.
But Shaw won over Spurrier, too, and he’s maintained that Shaw is his quarterback come hell or high water.
Shaw is the type of player who makes opponents’ fans continually pissed off. Why? He’s not bigger than your teams’ players; he’s certainly not more talented, and he doesn’t do the SuperCam pose after every touchdown. He frustrates the hell out of you because he’s tough and wills his team to victory. Shaw picks up the necessary three yards on a 3rd and three on a scramble, and then he hits a big play in the corner of the end zone.
So, Shaw will open 2013 leaving you unimpressed throwing to his tight ends and receivers with pinpoint accuracy for minimal games. He’ll get injured in the first half, only to return in the second, grit it out and find a way to will his team to victory. Spurrier knows Shaw will ultimately get it done. That’s all he’s ever done.
That’s Connor Shaw, and there’s no quarterback controversy…just winning.
Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports