Aug. 4, 2005
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier named redshirt sophomore quarterback Blake Mitchell as the starter for the season opener against Central Florida. The Gamecocks will host UCF on Thursday, September 1 in a nationally-televised ESPN contest.
Mitchell, a 6-3, 194-pounder from LaGrange, Ga., saw action in five games during the 2004 season, completing 9-of-22 passes for 86 yards and one touchdown. He completed 12-of-23 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown pass in the Garnet and black Spring Game this past spring.
“The coaching staff made a decision today that Blake Mitchell will be our starting quarterback against Central Florida,” said Coach Spurrier following the two-hour workout which saw the squad put shoulder pads on for the first time this fall. “Obviously if he plays well he will be the quarterback for the entire season barring injury. We felt like Blake is much better prepared mentally and physically. He’s had an excellent summer working out and it’s clear to all of us here that he’s our best guy to go out there. So when it’s obvious, we named him the starter for the first game and hopefully for a long time. Backups – we don’t know yet. We’re trying a lot of guys right there. Blake’s earned it and he’s our starter,” continued Coach Spurrier. “He knows the offense better than the rest of them and he had a good night tonight. All the quarterbacks did a lot better. We were throwing a little more accurately. It was clear to everybody out here that he’s our best guy and by far the best prepared to go. He can make all the throws and he’s a good athlete.”
“It was something I wasn’t expecting to hear this early in camp,” said Mitchell. “I came out here every day, worked hard and gave it my best and I thank Coach for giving me that opportunity. You can never get relaxed,” noted Mitchell. “I just want to go out there and keep working hard as I would if I was third string or second string. I busted my tail and I did the best I could to give myself every opportunity to be the number one guy. I was out there every day (this summer). I think that showed them I wanted to be a leader on the team.”
The Gamecocks will resume their fall workouts on Friday when they head to the practice fields for an 8 p.m. workout.
INJURY UPDATE: Offensive lineman Jeremy Burgess (back) returned to full practice; Wide receiver O.J. Murdock was sidelined with a bruised left shoulder; Cornerback Brandyn Young injured his right hamstring. Both Murdock and Young will be re-evaluated on Friday.