If East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden had been playing in a more visible conference, say the Southeastern Conference as opposed to Conference USA or (currently) The American, chances are that more people would have heard of him.
But Carden’s been toiling away behind the scenes, putting up numbers away from the limelight. And those numbers have been OK: 4,139 yards, 33 touchdowns, just 10 interceptions as a junior in 2013. That’s if you consider that output just “OK”.How did that stand up to other quarterbacks? Let’s pick, say, that guy at Florida State that won the Heisman Trophy–I think his name is Jameis Winston. He threw for 4,057 yards, but for seven more touchdowns than Carden. Johnny Manziel: 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns passing, 759 yards and nine touchdowns rushing (a far cry from his 3,706 yard, 26 touchdown passing/1,410, 21 touchdown rushing Heisman campaign in 2012).
Now I know that Carden has done most of his damage against lesser opponents (i.e. Old Dominion where he carved up the Monarchs secondary for 447 yards and five TDs through the air), and for that matter, so has Winston to some extent. And I’m not comparing him to Manziel because the two aren’t even in the same stratosphere. But there’s something to be said about the amount of yardage he’s putting up.
Which brings us to the Gamecocks’ matchup against ECU on Saturday. The coaches have been going through every square inch of tape on this kid and his team, looking at weaknesses, game planning, looking to get any advantage they can against the Pirates. This group is preparing for ECU as much as they would any other opponent, because they aren’t leaving a thing for granted, especially after how they were exposed on Thursday.
At the top of their list: stopping Carden. If they can’t, it will be another long day for the Gamecocks defense.