While another Connor Shaw thread may seem to be overdone, there’s a chapter in Gamecock football history that we just finished that I think we would be remiss to not acknowledge
There has been a noticeable and quite enjoyable change in the way Steve Spurrier (SOS) has publicly addressed his QBs starting around the time Connor Shaw became our full time starter. Most of us know winning plays a big part of this, but I believe things are much deeper than that.
It's quite obvious SOS is happy right now and enjoying being a HBC. The play of his QBs is a big a part of this and his praise and admiration for his QBs the past few years has been exceptional.
We all know SOS has always been vocal about his QBs. This is part of his legacy and everyone knows this is just SOS being SOS. We also remember (if we choose to) all too well the public criticism that was handed out to guys like Blake Mitchell, Stephen Garcia and a few times to Chris Smelley. Blake and Stephen got the brunt of most of it and maybe deserved it.
SOS was the QB coach and was always in their ear on the sidelines during games. This is the way SOS did things until he hired G.A. Mangus in Jan 2009.
Prior to ’09, our QB coach was the son of one of SOS’ old buds (John Reaves). Give SOS credit for giving the reigns of recruiting, coaching, managing, and developing his QBs after realizing something needed to be done. The QB carousel from the ’08 season combined with Chris Smelley’s abrupt departure is one of the few dark spots on SOS’ legacy as the Gamecock HBC.
When SOS hired G.A. Mangus away from Rick Stockstill/MTSU, I didn’t think much of it and took a very cynical view of it all. I was very wrong and gladly admit it.
What we got with G.A. Mangus was a noticeable upgrade:
· Former walk-on player and asst. coach at UF who knew SOS’ Fun’n’Gun offense both as a player and as coach.
· Was HBC at Delaware Valley College for 3 years with 33-4 record.
· OC at MTSU which featured a dual threat QB out of the spread including elements of the zone plays that are currently part of our offense. G.A. along with Shawn Elliott are directly responsible for the changes in our offense that has occurred over the past 5 seasons. Give Marcus Lattimore and Connor Shaw credit for convincing SOS that he could win with these changes to his offense.
· Experienced QB coach who not only has played for SOS, but coached under him as well as developed QBs on his own.
· Excellent recruiter and likely no one saw this coming.
There needs to be a line drawn in our QB recruiting, coaching, and developing starting with the time we hired G.A. Mangus. G.A.’s first cycle of recruiting got us Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson. It should be noted that Connor and Dylan were considered 3 and 2 star recruits with Connor having a few major offers and Dylan only having the one from USC.
In contrast, Blake Mitchell, Chris Smelley, and Stephen Garcia all were considered 4 star recruits with multiple offers including several SEC offers. It also should be noted that so far, only one QB recruited under SOS completed all of his eligibility while at USC: Connor Shaw. I will always believe our QB coaching was a big part of this.
There is clearly a different relationship to QBs at USC since G.A. came here and the difference in the W-L records as well as Top 10 finishes is a byproduct. G.A. also recruits a different kind of QB than his predecessor, specifically noting the character and work ethic elements. While Connor has a unique style of play compared to the typical SOS QB, even Dylan Thompson has done well and has elevated his game way beyond that of a 2 star recruit.
And yet this all goes back to SOS: He is now winning games by adapting after years and years of having his QBs fit a certain mold. Until Connor Shaw, SOS never had a running QB who could consistently make plays with his legs as well as the normal ways. It took not only G.A. Mangus, but Connor Shaw as well to enlighten SOS to what needed to be done to his offense to win.
- Give SOS credit for hiring and empowering G.A. Mangus as his QB coach and OC assistant. While this may have been bore out of frustration and obvious need, this piece of Gamecock football history needs to be remembered.
- Give G.A. Mangus credit
for his influence on the offense, recruiting certain types of QBs, developing those QBs and being the much needed buffer between SOS and his QBs.
- Give Connor Shaw credit
for being the disciplined coach’s son with an outstanding work ethic. He was talented and determined enough to develop his skills at QB, that he became the best and winningest Gamecock QB ever.
- Give Dylan Thompson similar credit
, while his story is still being written. I hope he is part of a lineage of Gamecock QBs who continue what Connor has done for Gamecock football.
I have enjoyed the three-peat 11 win seasons/Top 10 finishes, but I have also enjoyed the quality of our QBs and how well their relationships with our coaches have been.