Gamecocks not overlooking Vanderbilt
"We're looking forward to the game," said Steve Spurrier. "Hopefully we'll have a big crowd here. Vandy's a very good team. They've lost to three good teams. We've got to play well if we expect to be in the ball game with them. We think we're going to play better. We always think that, and hopefully we'll show it this Saturday."
The two big stories this week are both on offense, where Spurrier promised at least one change on the offensive line, and also said that benched starter Blake Mitchell would play some at quarterback in relief of starter Chris Smelley.
Spurrier declined to say exactly when Mitchell would get into the game, but did say it would come on the first half.
"[Mitchell] has looked pretty good," he said. "He and Chris have both looked fine. They're both going to play. They'll both be in the first half and then we'll go from there."
On the offensive line, Spurrier continues to be coy about who will start at guard, but now there is added intrigue at center. Starter Web Brown may be the most consistent lineman through the first seven games, but he has yet to practice this week with an elbow infection. If he cannot play, sophomore Garrett Anderson would take over.
"He had a little infection, and he hasn't practiced yet this week," said Spurrier. "He should be back and ready to go. Garrett's been in there at center this week, he and Seaver Brown. We've got play better on the offensive line, we all know that. Hopefully our guys will rise to the challenge we've given them this week. We'll have a new guard or two in there."
Mitchell hoping to make the most of opportunity
Senior quarterback Blake Mitchell spoke with the media on Wednesday evening for the first time since Spurrier announced he would play, and the first time since he was benched following the LSU game. Always stoic, Mitchell was relatively excited to get back on the field.
"I'm just going to try to go out there and let it go," said Mitchell. "If I make a mistake, I'm just going to put it behind me and keep going. I guess whatever happens, happens."
Mitchell does not know exactly when he will get into the game, but he does not mind the uncertainty. He was also careful to remind reporters that he is the backup, and Chris Smelley is the starter. He was asked several times if there could be a repeat of last season, when he sat out the middle of the year before returning to play superbly at the end of the season.
"I hoped that it was just a matter of time before I got another chance," Mitchell said. "I just hung in there and practiced hard. Everything else will just take care of itself. [Chris] has done a great job. He's got three wins and has put up some decent numbers, thrown some touchdowns. I'm sure he's going to do a good job on Saturday."
Mitchell insisted that being told he would play has not affected the way he is preparing this week. He reiterated the mantra of the backup quarterback, who is always one play away from having to take over the team.
"I always practice hard," he said. "I'm always prepared to play at any time. I am the backup, and if anything happens I could be in there. I practice every week with the mentality that I could be in there."
Mitchell seemed to think this might be his last chance to make an impression as a Gamecock. He also is determined to make the most of this opportunity.
"I guess you could say my career has been up and down," said Mitchell. "I just hung in there and waited for him to call my number again. Hopefully I'll be prepared."
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