Spurrier names Garcia as starting QB against Southern Miss

Stephen Garcia
Stephen Garcia

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) — Steve Spurrier says junior Stephen Garcia will start at quarterback when South Carolina opens the season against Southern Mississippi on Thursday night.

The Gamecocks sixth-year coach had hinted throughout much of the off-season that Garcia was in a tight battle for the starting spot with freshman Connor Shaw.

Spurrier said Wednesday that Shaw would play early against the Golden Eagles.

Garcia ranked only behind Ryan Mallett of Arkansas in passing yards thrown by returning Southeastern Conference quarterbacks. Garcia threw for 2,862 yards and 17 touchdowns last fall.

Don't be surprised if the head ball coach uses a two quarterback system the entire season. He says playing two QBs worked just fine when he was coaching the Florida Gators.

"Of the 8 conference championships I've won, four of them we played two quarterbacks," said Spurrier. "I have found there's nothing wrong with using two quarterbacks if you win the game."

Spurrier says South Carolina is focused and ready to play Southern Miss, no matter how often he's asked about potential NCAA problems. Spurrier says those issues have not been major distractions for South Carolina.

Tight end Weslye Saunders has been the focus of NCAA investigators for possible agent contact and will not play Thursday night because of a continuing suspension Spurrier says is not related to the probe.

Golden Eagles coach Larry Fedora says he hears all the time from people speculating on who his team may or may not face, but it hasn't impacted how he prepares his team.

Spurrier has won 17-straight season-opening college games; Southern Miss has an eight-game losing streak against Southeastern Conference opponents.

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.