April 15, 2006

T.J. takes turn; spring game was his time

MORGANTOWN--The unlikely hero of Saturday's Gold and Blue game was a young man who was running fourth string, and failed to enter the last scrimmage before the one at Milan Puskar Stadium in front of an estimated 8,000 fans.

T.J. Mitchell, whose position seemed to be "left out" through the first 14 workouts of the spring, came on to see his most minutes in a gold (and white) uniform in his career, and capitalized in an approximately 2-hour scrimmage. The offense won 48-31.

Not only did Mitchell, a redshirt, engineer the humid day's prettiest touchdown drive of the day, but also he completed an unofficial 6-of-10 passes for some 94 yards. He threw for one touchdown.

Mitchell, a 6-3, 210 pounder from Virginia Beach, Va., via Hargrave Military Academy, picked up additional snaps because No. 2 quarterback Jarrett Brown rolled an ankle in the first quarter and No. 3 Nate Sowers bruised a right (non-throwing) shoulder in the second half. Eventually, Sowers re-entered the game.

The surprise of the first half came when Mitchell led a mixture of second- and third-teamers to a 70-yard scoring drive. The drive, which ended with a touchdown pass from Mitchell to Brandon Barrett from 8 yards out, came exclusively against the first teamers on the blue-suited defense. The big play of the push resulted in a 25-yard pass from Mitchell to Tito Gonzales.

"T.J., for what limited time he had, had his best day of the spring. He struggled some during the spring, but he played well today," said head coach Rich Rodriguez, who spent portions of the game either with the fans in the stands or in the press box observing play.

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