Mitchell Returns For Monday Practice

The Gamecocks held their third practice of the fall on Monday night, but it marked the debut of fifth year senior quarterback Blake Mitchell, who was suspended for the first two workouts for missing too many classes during summer school. Read inside for more.


After electing to skip media day over the weekend, Mitchell was faced with an onslaught of reporters following Monday's practice. The LaGrange, GA native, who is never particularly comfortable facing the media, even if he just threw four touchdowns, admitted he wished he could be somewhere else, but said, "It comes with the job I have. I just have to accept it."

Mitchell did not dodge responsibility for missing classes, but he stressed that he has put the matter behind him and wants to focus on the season.

"I just didn't take care of my business," he said. "I missed a few days of class, and therefore I had to face the consequences. It's behind me now, and I'm out here working as hard as I've ever worked. I worked real hard in the offseason. We've got some great young talent out here at receiver, and I'm having fun throwing to them."

After practice Saturday, Spurrier said he was disappointed but not surprised that Mitchell had gotten in trouble. Mitchell said that he may have let his coach down, but he feels like he still has the support of the players.

"[Spurrier] was just disappointed I was not out here with the team," Mitchell said. "I'm back, so I'm not worried about the past anymore. I believe my teammates believe in me. All of them do, I've given them no reason not to. I definitely let them down, but they know I've been there in workouts, working hard with all of them, so I know they believe in me and respect me."



Quarterbacks Stephen Garcia and Blake Mitchell pose for a picture during USC's annual football media day.


Other than putting the past behind him, Mitchell's mantra was about excitement. He talked with enthusiasm about the new season, and the improvement the team has made. He praised backup quarterbacks Tommy Beecher and Chris Smelley for the work they put in over the summer. Mitchell said he did not think either one would steal his starting job, but he added, "We'll see. I hope they push me a little bit."

Mitchell did loosen up enough to tell one joke. He was asked about the freshmen wide receiver corps, and if Jason Barnes reminded him of the departed Sidney Rice.

"Jason Barnes is pretty good; he runs good routes and has good hands," Mitchell said. "And he wears number 4."

Notes:

- Spurrier stuck to his word following Monday's practicea and refused to answer any questions about academic admissions. "I told you yesterday, I talked about that all I need to yesterday."

- With temperatures just barely dipping into the double digits, the Gamecocks still managed to work for two and a half hours. They compensated for the heat by working at a slightly slower pace.

- After finally seeing his projected starter at quarterback, Spurrier confirmed that Mitchell is still atop the depth chart, and Beecher and Smelley are playing for the backup spot.

- At this stage, it appears there is a good chance that freshman quarterback Stephen Garcia will redshirt this season. When asked what areas Garcia needs to improve in, Spurrier replied, "It's everything. You just can't play in one year." He added that he definitely intends to change Garcia's passing mechanics, saying, "The ball slips out of his hand about one out of five throws."


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