Mic’d up: Taneyhill returns to Williams-Brice Stadium
It took him three seasons, but Blake Mitchell eventually started an exclusive club of South Carolina quarterbacks.
When Mitchell threw for 174 yards to lead USC’s upset of No. 11 Georgia on Sept. 8, 2007, he had QB’d the Gamecocks to wins over Tennessee (in 2005), Florida (‘05), Clemson (‘06) and the Bulldogs. He was the first Carolina signal caller to do that in a career — and was eventually joined by Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw.
“We had good teams,” Mitchell said Saturday before USC’s spring game at Williams-Brice Stadium. “It wasn’t me. I was just the quarterback. It was a full team effort. We had great players those years. It was fun.
“It is a big accomplishment, but I’m looking to see these guys do bigger and better things, beat everybody, (go) undefeated.”
Jake Bentley is a couple victories shy of the same accomplishment. All he needs to do is guide the Gamecocks past Clemson and Georgia this fall. Of course, you can find the Tigers and Bulldogs among the national title favorites.
What awaits South Carolina is perhaps the toughest schedule in America. Six opponents won 10 or more games last season. Five of them — Alabama (No. 1), Clemson (2), Georgia (3), Florida (9) and Texas A&M (11) — appear in the top 15 of Sporting News’ latest preseason poll.
How would past Gamecocks approach this daunting slate? The State asked Mitchell, Steve Taneyhill and Ryan Brewer.
Mitchell: “It’s tough. You just embrace it head on, accept the challenge and go out there and play as hard as you can every game.”
Taneyhill, USC QB from 1992-95: “It would be exciting to know you’re gonna play probably the No. 1, the No. 2 and the No. 3 ranked teams in the country, two of them here (Alabama, on Sept. 14, and Clemson, on Nov. 30, are at home). One of them early in the year and odd things can happen early in the year. But it’s a tough schedule.
“The only thing I worry about a little bit is our depth here. We’re not as deep as those teams and that catches up. But we do get Alabama early, so you never know. And it’s here. … I would look at it as, wow, we got Alabama here. Hopefully it’s a night game, this place is gonna rock. That’s how I would look at it. And I would have confidence we’re gonna win. On the outside looking it, you don’t see that maybe, but I’m pretty sure the players will be ready to go.
“But that schedule is gonna be tough.”
Brewer, USC running back from 1999-2002: “I’d love it. I’d love what’s going on with this facility, what’s going on with this team, this coaching staff. It would be a dream to play for these guys. They’re my type of guys, just in your face, high-pressure, high-energy, which I love.
“The schedule, you embrace it. Everybody’s ‘Ohh, tough schedule,’ who gives a crap? You got to beat the best to be the best, so I’d embrace that to the fullest out here. So it’s time to shine, time to step up.”
South Carolina 2019 schedule
Aug. 31 — North Carolina (2-9 last season)*
Sept. 7 — Charleston Southern (5-6)
Sept. 14 — Alabama (14-1)
Sept. 21 — at Missouri (8-5)
Sept. 28 — Kentucky (10-3)
Oct. 12 — at Georgia (11-3)
Oct. 19 — Florida (10-3)
Oct. 26 — at Tennessee (5-7)
Nov. 2 — Vanderbilt (6-7)
Nov. 9 — Appalachian State (11-2)
Nov. 16 — at Texas A&M (9-4)
Nov. 30 — Clemson (15-0)