Gamecock FB: Connor Shaw playing smart and playing well
There's a quarterback in South Carolina who is considered one of the front-runners for the 2013 Heisman Trophy.
There's also a quarterback in South Carolina who has put up impressive numbers this year for his top ranked college.
Here are the stats:
Quarterback No.1: 48-of-74 for 661 yards, six touchdowns passing, 64.9% completion percentage, 166.65 efficiency rating, 47 carries for 202 yards rushing
Quarterback No.2: 56-of-90 for 683 yards, six touchdowns passing, 62.2% completion percentage, 148.0 efficiency rating, 32 carries for 90 yards rushing with three rushing touchdowns
Which one is Connor Shaw and which one is Tajh Boyd?
If you didn't know, Shaw is Quarterback No. 1.
The South Carolina quarterback has put up nearly identical statistics to his rival counterpart in the Upstate who is getting pushed for the Heisman early in the 2013 season.
So why isn't Connor Shaw being considered a Heisman front-runner? Who knows, but if he continues on the path that he's going, he'll certainly turn some heads as he closes out his final year as the Gamecocks starting quarterback.
One of the major reasons for Shaw's success so far this season is his ability to protect the football. Connor Shaw knows it and so does his head coach Steve Spurrier.
Both Shaw and Spurrier talked about the play of the Gamecocks starting quarterback on Tuesday.
"I think it is just playing smart," Shaw said on Tuesday to the media. "One of the key things that coach talks about is protect the ball and not give the other team any chances. So I think the main thing is just playing smart and keeping care of the ball."
Spurrier added this on Tuesday: "But he has played very well; he takes care of the ball extremely well. I watch some of those NFL guys toss those careless interceptions and I say our guy doesn't do that. So he is careful where he throws it. Of course his ability to run out is very helpful also."
Shaw has done just that this year.
He has yet to throw an interception on the season and has fumbled the ball just one time against Georgia. As he mentioned, protecting the football and not giving the opponent any chances certainly gives your offense the opportunity to shine and so far in 2013, the Gamecocks offense is off to a flying start.
Shaw's ability to lead this offense and protect the football has been crucial, especially in the first half, when South Carolina has done most of their damage. The Gamecocks have outscored their opponents 72 to 41 in the first half alone, helping Carolina get the lead early and maintain it to help push them to victory.
Another reason for Shaw's play this season is his health. So far, the Gamecocks quarterback has avoided the nagging injury that plagued him all season long in 2012. Being healthy and trusting your body is a must as a quarterback, especially one that is a good runner, and that has led to Shaw enjoying the game of football this year.
"(Being healthy) makes all the difference in the world. Last year, I was playing through a cracked shoulder in my throwing arm and a bummed left foot. They are just things you take for granted when you're healthy. But hey, I am just enjoying playing football right now."
UCF will certainly be excited for Saturday's game as will Shaw and the Gamecocks. It's likely a game where Shaw's abilities will be a determining factor in South Carolina's performance on Saturday. UCF's defense is allowing just under 300 yards per game and South Carolina will need to be prepared for a hard fought game this weekend. Shaw knows it's a big and knows UCF is ready.
"They have a lot to be excited about. They just beat Penn State, I think they are undefeated for the first time in awhile, so I think they have every reason to be excited and having us come down there to play is going to be a big game and we are looking forward to it."
Wherever South Carolina goes this weekend, and this season, will likely be determined by the play of Connor Shaw.
Shaw has stepped up to the challenge so far this year and should continue to be a force for the Gamecocks moving forward.