VIDEO: Connor Mitch named USC starting QB
On Monday afternoon, South Carolina sophomore quarterback Connor Mitch held the door open for his head coach.
“You’d be happy if I named you the starter, wouldn’t you?,” Steve Spurrier said as he breezed by.
“I said, ‘Absolutely,’” Mitch replied.
On Tuesday afternoon, Spurrier made it official, telling the Gamecocks in a team meeting that Mitch had won a four-man quarterback competition and will start Sept. 3 against North Carolina in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
“We are going to get behind him,” Spurrier said. “This is not, ‘You’re starting and he’s going in the second quarter.’ There’s none of that. He’s got a chance to be the quarterback. Hopefully, he’ll go the distance against the Tar Heels and be ready for the next game.”
The 6-foot-3, 211-pound Mitch is 2-of-6 passing for 19 yards in his career after redshirting in 2013 and serving as Dylan Thompson’s backup last season. He beat out junior Perry Orth and freshmen Michael Scarnecchia and Lorenzo Nunez for the starting job.
“The competition was extremely close, but we have to make a decision,” Spurrier said. “We felt he was slightly ahead maybe, and he’s ready to go. We are going to give him all the support we can, stick him out there. As long as he takes care of the ball and keeps his head calm, he very easily could be the starting quarterback the entire year, barring injury.”
Mitch’s teammates were not surprised by the announcement, wide receiver Pharoh Cooper said.
“We feel very confident in him,” Cooper said. “He wouldn't be named the starting quarterback if everybody wasn't confident in him. The coaches are confident in him. We've been working with him all camp and everybody sees that he's ready to be named the starting quarterback.
Orth “may” go in before Scarnecchia if the Gamecocks have to turn to a backup, Spurrier said.
“What the competition has done, it’s gotten two other guys ready to play,” he said.
Mitch had been taking most of the first-team practice reps throughout fall camp, so he was not shocked by Tuesday’s announcement, he said.
“I think I put in a lot of work and effort and showed a lot of leadership this fall camp and, hopefully, made the decision for them easier,” he said. “I just have to go to work now. That’s the mentality I have. I have to look at it like I have to win it every day. I can’t get lenient and sit back and get lazy. Coach Spurrier said if I keep moving the ball, don’t make mistakes, don’t turn it over, obviously, I can keep leading this team. I have to go and do that.”
Mitch was a four-star prospect at Wakefield High in Raleigh, where he threw for 12,078 yards in a four-year career.
“I am one of 14 people to start in the SEC, so that’s an awesome feeling,” he said.
Spurrier wants to see how he reacts now that he has been named the starter.
“Guys look at him a little differently,” Spurrier said. “Everybody looks at the starting quarterback a little differently than just another dude out here competing for a job. Hopefully, he’ll have the leadership qualities that will help him and help the team.”