Editor’s Note: Stephen Garcia threw for 7,597 yards and 47 touchdowns at South Carolina (2007-11) and also had a brief career as a professional quarterback. He’ll be providing SEC insights throughout the season.

For the South Carolina Gamecocks, this season has not gone according to plan. Not even close.

From a team that had SEC and national title hopes coming into the season, they are now battling to make a decent bowl game. With all the hoopla and excitement heading in, the Gamecocks got mollywhopped at home on a Thursday night against Texas A&M. They haven’t been the same since.

After that opening-night game, the Gamecocks had several questions about their team, all variations of “What in God’s name happened?” I feel like they are still recovering from that shell-shocking game.

When talking with quarterback Dylan Thompson, with whom I’m still very good friends, I feel his disappointment so far this season, but I can also feel his desire to turn it around. They can still have a good season and make a good bowl game and beat their rival, Clemson, for a sixth straight season.

After reading and hearing so many people complaining about how Dylan has played thus far and why coach Steve Spurrier hasn’t done his patented “musical QB” move (which is the worst thing of all time), I can assure you that Dylan is by far the best option for this team. He is a great leader, a great teammate, and he is in the upper part of the SEC in passing statistics (15 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 7.7 yards per pass attempt).

He’s also earned the right to be the starter. He waited his turn, worked hard, and learned from myself and Connor Shaw on how to play in this conference.

Obviously, I’m no stranger to the Gamecocks fans. I realize that the quarterback position gets all the blame if the team isn’t playing well. That’s part of the deal. Thats what we signed up for. I do, however, believe that Dylan doesn’t deserve the criticism that some people have thrown at him.

If you watch the games from my standpoint, he has played very well. He hasn’t been turning the ball over, which is impressive for a guy that is running an offense with no true identity. He’s made some very important throws and beat Georgia. Yes, they laid an egg against Kentucky (man that 2010 game still haunts me), but that’s the beauty of the SEC. Anybody can beat anybody. The talent level of these teams are slowly becoming even.

Obviously matchups and strategies are a very important factor, but that’s another story.

Back to Dylan. It was pretty clear that he was amped up during the beginning of the games in the beginning of the season. And who the hell could blame him? Like I mentioned earlier, he sat for four years waiting to play. Of course he was jacked up to play, and like myself, he plays the quarterback position with a lot of emotion. He has worked extremely hard and you won’t find anyone within the Gamecocks family that will tell you otherwise.

It always pisses me off to hear fans bad-mouth a player on their team. Why would you talk trash about him? I feel like if you have a bad performance, fans think you don’t care and didn’t try hard. Sometimes things happen and you can’t get anything going.

The good thing about Dylan is that he doesn’t listen or pay attention to anything outside of that locker room. He is the quarterback and will continue to be under center for the Gamecocks unless he gets injured.

So, Gamecocks fans, buckle up, because Dylan is driving the bus. So support your quarterback and encourage him, don’t bad-mouth the kid. He doesn’t deserve it.