Wednesday Practice Report

Gamecocks' coach Lou Holtz knows what kind of quarterback he'll be facing on Saturday....

You don't need to remind South Carolina coach Lou Holtz about the talent of QB Chris Leak. Since before his freshman year of high school, Florida's phenom quarterback has turned Holtz's head on several occasions.

Leak actually attended Holtz's first football camp at South Carolina, which is 90 minutes from his hometown of Charlotte, N.C.

"I remember it vividly," Holtz said. "He made a couple of throws and I said, ‘Who in the world is that young man?' And he was going into the ninth grade. He wasn't even in the ninth grade yet. He threw better than anybody. He had the touch and he had the presence. He's a guy that comes along rarely."

Leak plans on having plenty of family and friends at Saturday's game.

"I'll have a big group there," Leak said. "I'll probably need 20 to 30 tickets."


After meeting with Coach Ron Zook on Monday, DT Mo Mitchell is back in good standing with coaches since serving a one-game suspension during Saturday's game against Vanderbilt.

Mitchell, a 6-foot-7, 340 pound junior, broke a university policy resulting in his second suspension in six months. However, Zook has adamantly defended Mitchell throughout his troubles. As a result, his career is not in jeopardy, the coach said.

"Mo has served his sentence," Zook said. "I've said this many times. Mo is not a bad person. I like Mo. I like Mo a lot."

Mitchell, who remains cordial despite his desire to avoid the media, has started six games this season.

Long snapper Casey Griffith also is in good standing after serving a suspension for missing class.


Sure, natural passion plays a role in the emotion of every win. But Zook said all passion isn't natural. It's taught.

"I think you coach it," Zook said. "Everyone talks about how you play like you practice. I'm one of those guys. I think you can get three hours of work done in two hours."

So how do you coach passion?

"You chase them," he said.

Zook recalled an occasion when he coached Sammy Knight, now a safety with the Dolphins, in his rookie season at New Orleans.

"Sammy looked at me like I was crazy because I'm chasing him to the huddle," Zook said. "That's not something that just happens. You coach that stuff."


While several active coaching legends – including Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden and Lou Holtz – face impending retirements, Zook remains hopeful his final days are far from near.

Zook laughed Tuesday when asked about what signs he would look for when thinking about hanging it up.

"I hope I'm a long way from there," Zook said. "My fear is somebody telling me I have to retire. Can you imagine? What would you do all day?"

Holtz, who will coach South Carolina on the opposing sideline Saturday, is 66 years old and has been a head coach for 31 years. He said Tuesday he has not thought about when he will end his coaching career.

Zook, on the other hand, is 49 years old and is in his second year as a head coach.

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