Stephen Garcia left the first meeting between Auburn and South Carolina a little worse for wear, taking a knock to the head (though not one severe enough to be ruled a concussion) that helped prompt Steve Spurrier -- who said Garcia was "woozy" -- to turn to true freshman Connor Shaw for the game's final two drives. Shaw threw interceptions on both those possessions, ending any chance of a late Gamecock comback, so Carolina knows already it will have to have Garcia healthy and at his best to keep pace with the Tigers' SEC -best offense.
Unfortunately, Spurrier announced yesterday that may be a luxury they simply won't have:
Garcia hurt his right thumb in Saturday night's victory over Clemson when his hand struck a Clemson defender's helmet, an injury he addressed after the game. However, USC head coach Steve Spurrier revealed late Sunday afternoon that Garcia has a 'banged-up' left (non-throwing) shoulder as well.If Spurrier's expecting him back at practice by midweek, Garcia remains likely to play in Atlanta. But if you're a Gamecock fan, "He should be OK, we think" can't sound encouraging, particularly given Auburn's penchant for knocking opposing quarterbacks (Ryan Mallett , Greg McElroy , Jarrett Lee , Garcia) out of the game. There's also been a credible report that Garcia's injury is severe enough to put his arm in a sling on Sunday. (For those of you interested in such things, Vegas has reportedly taken the game off the board in response to Garcia's status.)
As a a result, Garcia is not expected to practice early this week, but could join his teammates in workouts by the middle of the week.
"His right hand is very sore," Spurrier said Sunday during a teleconference with reporters to preview Saturday's SEC Championship game. "And his left shoulder got popped a little bit. He probably won't do too much the first couple of days this week, but hopefully by midweek or so he should be pretty close to full go. He's a little banged up right now, but he should be okay, we think."
When all is said and done, expect Garcia to suit up, take the field against the Tigers, and deliver the same kind of gutty effort that's always marked his tenure in Columbia. But if he's not 100 percent, Carolina's already long-seeming odds against the Tigers will get that much longer.