Spurrier switches quarterbacks

  • Follow USC

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Steve Spurrier is at it again, shuffling quarterbacks at South Carolina until he finds someone who plays the ball coach's game.

The latest demotee is Blake Mitchell, a fifth-year senior who only a week ago Spurrier declared would be the one to take the 16th-ranked Gamecocks (3-1) as far as they would go this season.

But after South Carolina's undefeated start ended with No. 2 LSU's 28-16 victory, Spurrier said freshman Chris Smelley would get the start when the Gamecocks return to action this week against Mississippi State (3-1).

It's the second straight year Mitchell's been benched early in the season.

"Blake's had a lot of pressure on him" and that has led to erratic performances, Spurrier said. "So we're going to give Chris Smelley a chance right now."

Mitchell lost his starting spot in 2006 after South Carolina's 18-0 loss to Georgia. He returned late in the season and led the Gamecocks to close with three straight wins - something that hadn't happened in 33 years.

But Mitchell hasn't looked as sharp so far this year. He was 7 of 16 for 70 yards against LSU before Smelley took over.

The loss dropped South Carolina four spots in this week's ranking and ended their six-game win streak.

Spurrier had been concerned about Mitchell's tendency to hold the ball too long, missing chances to connect with receivers on timing patterns.

Smelley did a good job, Spurrier said, in getting rid of the ball quickly enough to move the Gamecocks. Smelley was 12 of 26 for 174 yards and South Carolina's only touchdown pass Saturday, a 1-yard scoring toss to Kenny McKinley.

Spurrier didn't want to get into particulars about what Mitchell did wrong to lose his spot. "But obviously we weren't going very far and we just decided to let Chris have a chance," Spurrier said. "He threw the ball pretty well, actually."

Spurrier also didn't say if Mitchell or third-stringer Tommy Beecher would come in if Smelley was ineffective or aggravated the sprained right shoulder hurt in the Gamecocks' opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.

"Right now, Chris has a chance to go the distance," Spurrier said.

Spurrier was a Heisman Trophy winner as Florida's quarterback in 1966. He has called his own plays and coached quarterbacks throughout his career - and that has led to some quick hooks for Spurrier's starters.

Figuring out Spurrier's rotation during his later seasons at Florida was a puzzle. He went with little-used Jesse Palmer against the Gamecocks in 1999 over starter Doug Johnson.

A year later, it was Palmer again going for the Gators in the South Carolina game when Spurrier was dissatisfied with starter Rex Grossman.

In 2006, Spurrier thought Mitchell was ready to do great things as South Carolina's quarterback, saying his player had a chance to be an all-Southeastern Conference pick.

Instead, Mitchell flopped so badly he was replaced after two games by the more mobile Syvelle Newton.

But Mitchell kept his poise and stayed ready. When Spurrier brought him in the second half of South Carolina's game with Arkansas a year back, Mitchell nearly rallied the team back from a 17-point deficit before losing 26-20.

Mitchell started the rest of the season. The way he finished had Spurrier and Gamecock fans hopeful Mitchell would pick up where he left off.

But whether it was a one-game academic suspension that made him miss the opener or a three-interception, one-fumble performance against South Carolina State two games ago, Mitchell did not meet expectations - and finds himself again out of action.

After the LSU loss, Mitchell was asked what he would do on the sidelines. "Just sit there and wait until, I guess, somebody else messes up and I might get a chance to get back in there," he said.

With Spurrier as coach, that could be as soon as the next game.

Comments (10) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
glass houses
0
Points
glass houses 09/24/07 - 08:00 am
0
0
The Ole Ball Coach always

The Ole Ball Coach always needs someone to blame, dontcha know. There's just no way that loss could've been any of his fault. "Quick to take the credit for the wins" and "pointing fingers at his players for the losses" has always been Spurrier's way.

thinktwice
1
Points
thinktwice 09/24/07 - 09:46 am
0
0
I dont remember him taking

I dont remember him taking the credit for beating Georgia.

S.C. Dawg
0
Points
S.C. Dawg 09/24/07 - 10:06 am
0
0
Cdaddy,Dork, and Chillidipper

Cdaddy,Dork, and Chillidipper are obviously all 3 sharing the same cave. Spurrier has always, even at Florida, used QB's as punching bags to ease his frustrations. Too bad, because Blake is the only SEC caliber QB he has, and he is obviously set on making an example out of him. Instead of where it should be, on a whopping 6 yds rushing.

JoeBlown
0
Points
JoeBlown 09/24/07 - 12:07 pm
0
0
Darn, the Ole' Ball Coach is

Darn, the Ole' Ball Coach is such a bad coach that he led SC into Athens and tore up some Dawg butt from what I can remember. I say let the man coach anyway he wants too!!!

Art
0
Points
Art 09/24/07 - 01:53 pm
0
0
Blake's had a lot of pressure

Blake's had a lot of pressure on him" Ya, there was no rushing gains by SC and that was why they lost...

The Knave
24
Points
The Knave 09/24/07 - 04:40 pm
0
0
Some real Spurrier-haters

Some real Spurrier-haters residing here. After you folks collect your own Heisman tropy, national championship, six SEC championships, and one ACC championship, then perhaps your opinions might be worth considering.

jff
0
Points
jff 09/24/07 - 09:08 pm
0
0
i know smelley ,i played

i know smelley ,i played against him in high school, one good shot to the left knee he will be out.

glass houses
0
Points
glass houses 09/25/07 - 08:38 am
0
0
The Knave, My, my we're a

The Knave, My, my we're a little touchy when it comes to talkin' about Daddy Steve now, aren't we? Just pointing out the fact that Spurrier is a legend in his own mind. People don't dislike Spurrier because of his success....it's because of his attitude. Meyer has gotten it done with the Gators a lot quicker, and with a lot more class. Most folks have a genuine disdain for poor sportsmanship and inflated egos. Obviously some, such as yourself, will take a win at any cost.

carpentert
0
Points
carpentert 09/25/07 - 12:09 pm
0
0
And Meyer didn't have any

And Meyer didn't have any players either when he took over Florida. I mean Zook couldn't recruit worth crap.

USC1
0
Points
USC1 09/26/07 - 11:52 am
0
0
16 - 12

16 - 12

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs