Spring practice came to an end with the annual Garnet and Black Spring game last Saturday. Head coach Steve Spurrier had some questions he wanted to be answered during the spring. The three biggest question marks came with the defensive tackle position, backup quarterback and cornerback.
Having already discussed defensive tackles, it’s time to talk about the ever important backup quarterback. Spurrier named senior Dylan Thompson the starter well before spring practice began. Thompson is the only quarterback that has played meaningful snaps, and he has led the Gamecocks through some sticky situations. He is undefeated as a starter (3-0) with an impressive win against Clemson in Death Valley in 2012.
It’s not clear who will be the number two man in Columbia however. There are three players that are competing for the backup role right now. Connor Mitch, Brendan Nosovitch and walk-on Perry Orth are all battling for that spot.
Brendan Nosovitch, a sophomore, is the only other quarterback on the roster with college game experience and entered the spring as the number two guy. The Pennsylvania native completed both of his pass attempts last season for 13 yards. His experience advantage and running ability factored into Nosovitch becoming the early favorite to win the backup role during the spring, but Mitch and Orth contested that from day one of spring practice.
Orth, who came to South Carolina without a scholarship, showed that he belonged from the beginning of camp. The Ponte Vedra native enrolled in January of 2013 and is now a redshirt sophomore. He impressed Spurrier early on with his sound mechanics and a strong arm. Spurrier liked Orth the best throughout spring practice, but he fell off late in the competition.
Mitch, a redshirt freshman, lit up the scoreboard and accumulated insane stats as a senior in high school. The Wakefield High School graduate threw for 4,701 yards and 63 touchdowns as a senior. Mitch came to South Carolina as arguably the highest rated quarterback that Spurrier has lured to the school. He has often been considered the quarterback of the future and wisely redshirted his first year on campus.
Coming off of his second spring in Columbia, Mitch seems to finally have made his mark. Mitch was neck and neck with Orth coming into the last week of spring practice, but became the clear favorite to win the backup role with a strong performance for the Garnet team in the spring game. Mitch finished the game 7 for 10 with 108 yards passing. He led a 70 yard touchdown drive and did not turn the ball over once.
Orth threw the lone interception of the game while Nosovitch failed to lead his team to a scoring drive. Mitch is the man with the most impressive high school career, and he has played smart football this spring. After a second impressive spring, Connor Mitch is clearly the favorite to backup Dylan Thompson in the fall.