Gamecocks see drama-free spring as Shaw runs show

South Carolina’s spring football practices have been noticeably quiet so far.

Unlike the past four seasons, when there was either a quarterback controversy or a controversy surrounding the quarterback, things are a lot more orderly with Stephen Garcia out of the picture.

And Gamecocks fans aren’t going to get the same sort of drama out of Connor Shaw, the unquestionable No. 1 QB and leader entering the 2012 season following his performance of the final three games last season.

After leading the Gamecocks to impressive victories over Florida, Clemson and Nebraska, Shaw enters his junior year without Garcia’s shadow anywhere to be found. It’s a new experience, but he is handling it like a veteran.

“It’s a little different (coming in as the starter) but I’m coming in with the same mindset,” Shaw said at Thursday’s practice. “And that’s to get better and help the people around me get better.”

So far so good, as South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has observed. After dealing with Garcia’s double (not so) secret probation, Shaw’s steady head on and off the field seem like a welome relief.

“Connor had a good day,” said Spurrier, who has a history of being tough on his QBs. “Connor got a lot better from his first day. We’re working on his fundamentals. He just needs (to work on) the timing of his throwing.

“We’re going to work on that, but he can run with the ball and can make smart decisions. That’s why we won some of the close games. We didn’t have some of the stupid plays we’ve had a lot in the past. Connor should have a better year next year.”

Shaw said he spent the offseason studying film on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, another passer who has to compensate for a height deficit. Shaw hopes to learn Brees’ knack for staying in the pocket longer, but says it won’t stop him from tucking the ball and running.

“I’ve been studying Drew Brees a lot,” Shaw said. “He’s my height, but he has great footwork and scans the entire field and sees everything. He has to create open lanes because of his height.”

And without having to worry about “Who Dat” going to be the Gamecocks QB this season, they hope to have some Saints-like success.

The next practice is scheduled for Friday at 4:15 p.m. and the team will be in full pads for the first time this spring.

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