By Rixon Lane
Our inaugural "Matchup Monday" features a pair of Gamecock quarterbacks.
Blake Mitchell and Anthony Wright both hold places in the South Carolina record books, but neither was able to lead to the promised land.
The question is...who was better?
The case for...Blake Mitchell
Steve Spurrier inherited Blake Mitchell when he arrived in Columbia and immediately had a quarterback capable of running his high-flying style of offense. Mitchell took the Gamecocks their first bowl win under Spurrier, a 44-36 victory over Houston in the Liberty Bowl in which he went toe-to-toe with future NFL quarterback Kevin Kolb, throwing for 323 yards and four touchdowns. Mitchell had some off-the-field issues, but finished as the most accurate passer in Gamecock history. HIs career completion percentage of 60.7% would stand for six seasons before Connor Shaw shattered the school record. Mitchell also brought stability to the quarterback position, becoming the first Gamecock to lead the team in passing yards for three consecutive seasons since Phil Petty. His 2,370 passing yards in 2005 were the most by a Gamecock quarterback since Steve Taneyhill's senior season.
The case for...Anthony Wright
One of the most athletic quarterbacks to ever suit up for South Carolina, Anthony Wright was a bright spot during somewhat dark times for the Gamecock football program. Before he became a 10-year NFL veteran with a Super Bowl ring, Wright spent four seasons in Columbia and served as the starting quarterback in his final three. The Gamecocks had just one winning season in Wright's career, but the quarterback was able to help bring excitement to an offense that had lacked productivity after Steve Taneyhill's departure. Wright finished his Gamecock career with the third-most completions and the third-most touchdowns of any South Carolina quarterback. Wright tossed 18 touchdowns in his junior season with the Gamecocks, a mark that no South Carolina quarterback would top for thirteen years. His 5,681 career passing yards place him sixth on South Carolina's all-time list.
Mitchell benefited from a better coaching staff, while Wright's athleticism was unmatched by nearly every other Gamecock quarterback. However, Mitchell's elite ability as a passer sets him apart. Although Wright was more capable in the open field and had to play with lesser players around him, Mitchell arm talent gives him the slightest of edges.