162.9 passer rating, 2447 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 558 rushing yards, and 6 rushing touchdowns.
This isn’t the stat-line of AJ McCarron. It’s not Johnny Football. It’s not Zach Mettenberger.
It’s Connor Shaw.
Shaw had a season for the ages for the South Carolina Gamecocks this year, and, just like that, he’s gone. But he wouldn’t leave without one last exhibition of his underrated skills. Against Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl, Shaw proved why he is the heart and soul of the Gamecocks. He passed for 312 yards on 22 of 25 passing for three touchdowns. That’s a completion percentage of 88%. He also rushed for 47 yards and a touchdown. And, for fun, he decided to catch a touchdown pass on an amazing double reverse pass from Bruce Ellington. He was having fun and he went out in style. Shaw, fittingly, was named MVP of the game. His stellar display earned him a coveted trip to the NFL Combine, where he is sure to shock some scouts and earn his way on to an NFL roster through his hard work and determination.
Many Gamecock fans knew that Connor Shaw would not lose this game. We knew that there was no way he was going to do anything but play his best and achieve the third straight 11-win season for South Carolina. He would do whatever it took, and he did.
Shaw is going to be sorely missed, not only for his excellent play, but his toughness and leadership abilities as well. He was the toughest guy on the team, and his will to win is greater than almost anyone I have ever seen play college football. This was perfectly displayed in the miracle game against Missouri, a game in which Shaw was sick and injured. He stepped in down 17-0 in the second half and rallied the troops to a 2OT victory.
The national media, as I’ve written about before, has not given Shaw the attention he deserves. He is the starting quarterback on a team that could end up in the top-5, realistically top-7. The Fighting Gamecocks have three 11 win seasons while Shaw was at the helm , no small feat in the SEC. He will definitely be missed in Columbia next year, but leaves the program in good hands, with the very able Dylan Thompson most likely stepping in.
We also say goodbye to Bruce Ellington. He walks away from the Basketball team as well. Bruce emerged as one of Shaw’s favorite targets, and his NFL stock is at an all-time high. He leaves the wide receiver position into the sticky hands of Shaq Roland and the lightning feet of Damierre Byrd. Mike Davis will return as one of the best rushers in the SEC, and his Heisman Trophy campaign has already kicked off. Things are looking good for the Gamecock offense next year.
It will be a long off-season for Gamecock fans. You get so used to watching every week; you get spoiled when it ends.
The season didn’t end with an SEC championship or a National Championship, but the gamecocks did beat two teams who won BCS games (Clemson, UCF). In fact, every bowl eligible team that South Carolina beat, went on to win their bowl game.
It was another great season for the Gamecocks, as well as the end of the Connor Shaw era. Shaw will go down as one of the best ever to play at South Carolina. Steve Spurrier called him the best mobile quarterback that he has ever coached, and went on to say he earned his shot at the NFL.
It’s time to set goals and prepare for next fall and a run at an SEC and National Championship.