Holtz probes mysteries of 2002 USC team

South Carolina head football coach Lou Holtz says his Gamecocks have to prove a lot in 2002 - mainly to him. The long-time coach gave his thoughts on the USC squad today at SEC Media Days in Birmingham, Ala.

Head Coach Lou Holtz

"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.

"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, the 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 had."

On expectations:
"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.

"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.

"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.

On Derek Watson:
"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.

Defensive Back Rashad Faison

On losing defensive players:
"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.

"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.

"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-foot-9, 195 pounds. It's essential for me to realize that I'm not tall. I'll have to use technique.

"I'm 5-foot-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."

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."

"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."

"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."

"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. "

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