Media Days: Lou Holtz & Mark Richt

After leading his team to two straight winning seasons, Lou Holtz suddenly finds his South Carolina squad in the unusual situation of being a pre-season favorite. But in typical Holtz fashion, he downplayed the expectations. <br><br>"As long as I've been in this game, I've never had a team I've known less about. Look at what we lost from last year. I say ‘How in the world are we going to possibly replace that?"

"Then when I look at players coming back I get excited, though they haven't proved themselves.

"Our players have great expectations, but at the same time, I don't know. I like the attitude, I like the chemistry, I like the way they work. But I have no idea what to expect.

"I know less about our quarterback than any quarterback I've ever had. He's a great leader, toughest young man I've ever coached. He was on kickoff teams when I allowed him last year. I don't think he'll play in the NFL as a quarterback but he will as a free safety. He has a strong arm. He's quicker than I thought. He has a lot of the qualities that Tony Rice (at Notre Dame) had.

What about the expectations for your team after two straight winning seasons?
"They (fans) don't criticize me an awful lot over what I say. I can't lower the expectations, nor do I want to. What I try to do is temper them with realism. I'm not saying we're not going to be an excellent football team, what I'm saying is we've got some problems.

"Who do we have coming back? No real receiver. We lost our center, lost our tackle, lost our quarterback, lost our linebackers, lost our secondary. This is realism. But I love the attitude and the work habits, and this football team is going to make the people in the state of South Carolina very proud. Come closer to reaching its potential. I like what I see in practice, but I don't know.

"Our fans think we're going to win the championship. They should feel that way. It's exciting. There are some reasons to be excited, but there are also some question marks.

What about your running backs?
"Andrew Pinnock is as good a back as you'll find. He has all the tools of Jerome Bettis, size and speed. I think our defensive line will be very good if George Scott will come along. We have some talent at linebacker.

"I love our senior leadership. I'm talking about guys who have been with us for three years, and they understand the challenge we have had. This senior class has learned a lot. I think this year's senior class will be the best leaders I've been around for a long time.

Will Derek Watson (currently suspended from the team) get a chance to return?
"A football team has a lifespan of one year. Derrick Watson will not be a part of this football team this year. That's all I'm going to go into it.

South Carolina Defensive Back Rashad Faison

Will the team be able to replace so many defensive players lost to graduation?
"I think it's a great concern on our part. We have a lot of young guys. It's gonna be interesting to see if our defense can hold up. As a senior, you gotta try to lead those guys in the right direction.

"We will be fine defensively if the offense steps up.

What about key games this year?
"You have to circle bigger games on the schedule but that doesn't step any other teams down.

"One of the biggest obstacles is to beat Georgia. We have to look forward to Georgia because it's so early but, of course, we have to look forward to Florida and Tennessee. Until we knock off a Vol or a Gator, we'll still be at the bottom.

"As I chose the SEC to play in, I knew I was gonna play against great players. It's a great challenge on my part, being from Florida. If you step on the field in the SEC and you're not a competitor, you better go home, go hide or something.

How do you compete against bigger players?
"It's important for us to realize we're in a tough conference. Florida's gonna be great, Tennessee's gonna be great. God's given me the ability to play football. I'm 5'9", 195. It's essential for me to realize that I'm not tall. I'll have to use technique.

"I'm 5'9". I'm not gonna intimidate many people...but I know the game of football doesn't change. The person with the biggest heart is gonna win."

South Carolina Running back Andrew Pinnock

"Playing for Lou Holtz is everything you would expect.. He is a great motivator and a great coach. He expects a lot out of us."

What will your role be this year?
"I always prepare myself to carry the ball 20-30 times a game. I'll run the ball as much as they need me to. If it is only 10 times, I'll do it."

Can the team win having lost so many seniors?
"As a team, we depend on each other. There are some big shoes to fill on the defensive side of the ball, but we have some guys ready to step up. I believe in my team and I believe in my teammates from the first to the third string."

"We can't get caught up in all the hype given to other teams. We just have to take it day by day and so what we need to do."

You're not from the South. How did you end up at South Carolina?
"I have no regrets about my decision to come to South Carolina. It was tough at first, but you have to crawl before you walk.

Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt

Mark Richt

"I can see better this year, had little laser surgery. Maybe that will help me in heat of battle keep an eye on that clock.

"We're very excited about this season. Little more optimistic this year, got group of guys that have a better idea of what we want as coaches, we've got coaching staff returned in entirety. They have a better idea of what I want. The transition this year is a lot easier than year ago.

What about your quarterbacks?
"Offensively, we've got David Greene, without a question is our starting quarterback. He did a fantastic job as a freshman. D.J. Shockley is a guy who has proved to me and the staff that he's a very talented guy, a guy who has a chance do great things for us. We'll play D.J. early in every ballgame, how well he does will decide how much more playing time he'll get.

Can both QBs get playing time?
"I've had a little experience with quarterbacks in the same class or near the same class. ... Peter Tom Willis and Chip Ferguson, roommates, teammates, competed against each other their entire careers. If we get a couple of guys that like each other, respect each other's ability, it goes a long way in keeping the camp from being divided.

"They're both good passers, decision makers, good students. The fact that they like each other and respect each other is really gonna help us.

What other leaders are on your team?
"Terrence Edwards getting ready to set lot of career records for us. I'm very excited what he can do along with other returning yardage leaders, Fred Gibson and Damien Gary. Those guys are ready to play. We have Reggie Brown coming back off knee injury. I think the receiving corp has a chance to be good. We know they are capable of making the plays but there can't be an off game in that skill group. If they drop the ball, it's gonna be a tough time winning this league.

What about your defense?
"Defensively, Tony Gilbert will be the first player to lead team in tackles, if healthy, 3 years in a row. He's a tremendous leader for us. He and Boss Bailey, those two guys are without question the leaders of our defense. We're going to need good leadership on defense with inexperienced players at corner and safety."

Georgia Offensive Tackle Jon Stinchcomb

Talk about the season expectations.
"We appreciate the preseason recognition we have received, but our approach to the upcoming season has not changed. We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us. This season is more about the team than individual honors."

"I am excited about playing every week. You can't look past any team. Every week you have to come with your A game, especially with a schedule like the one we have at Georgia."

Talk about your offensive line.
"The returning offensive line should be a strength for us. There is a lot of experience there and we are going to have to draw from that if we want to be successful this season."

Can you play two quarterbacks?
"Our offense can function properly with either quarterback in the game because we are lucky enough to have two very talented guys out there. We don't have to answer the question of which one is talented enough to play. They both bring two totally different games on the field and they both work hard."

What area does the offense need to improve on most?
"Producing in the red zone is something we worked on in the spring and it is something we will work in during fall practice. We know that in order to win the big games, you have to be able to score when you get in the red zone."

Georgia Linebacker Boss Bailey

Your team is a favorite to win the East.
"Only thing that matters is what we think of ourselves. As far as rankings, the ones that really matter are the ones at the end of the season. We're striving to be in the top five at the end of the season. It's past overdue to win a SEC championship."

Talk about your role this year.
"We're going to do our best to lead this defense. We've got guys in front of us and in back of us with experience."

Who will win the East?
"It's going to be a dogfight. There's not one team that's a dominant right now. We can be the best Georgia's ever been right now."

"The recruitment coach is doing a great job. Now we're trying to put some trophies in the trophy case."

"It's basically a toss-up. Any SEC team can win it. It's really a toss-up. There's going to be some exciting games."

Is there one game you need to win?
"I have 12 games circled on my schedule. Every game is a big game. Every game is really important right now."

Will the second year with Coach Richt be easier?
"The coaches and players coming back is a positive thing."

"It will be a lot smoother. The coaches know the players. It will help with the chemistry of the team."


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