With the win, USC Head Coach Lou Holtz passed Woody Hayes to move to No. 8 on the all-time coaching career victories list with 239. The team, led by the captains, presented Holtz with a game ball following the game in the lockerroom.
Freshman Demetris Summers returned the opening kickoff 25 yards from the goal line, the first time he handled the football as a Gamecock. On the next play, his first rushing attempt, Summers gained 10 yards. His third touch was a 17 yard punt return. Summers had a second punt return of 10 yards in the fourth quarter. For the game he had three rushes for 23 yards.
Freshman Syvelle Newton's first carry as a Gamecock was a 32 yard gain on a reverse in the fourth quarter
Marcus Lawrence, who joined the Gamecocks this season from Butler County Community College, recovered a Louisiana Lafayette fumble in the first quarter of his first game as a Gamecock. Lawrence also had a nine yard quarterback sack in the fourth quarter.
South Carolina's first 2003 touchdown came on an eight yard pass from Dondrial Pinkins to Troy Williamson with 10:51 remaining in the first quarter. It was the fifth career TD pass for Pinkins. It was also the fifth career TD reception for Williamson.
Transfer senior Darel Slay recovered a fumble at the USC two yard line to halt a first quarter ULL threat. The fumble was caused by Junior Rodriques Wilson.
The attendance of 82,227 was the fourth largest opening game crowd in Williams-Brice Stadium history. Larger first game crowds were 83,717 vs. New Mexico State last year, 83,019 vs. Boise State in 2001 and 82,605 vs. East Carolina in 1999.
The second quarter interception by Deandre Eiland was the eighth of his career. Eiland had four interceptions in 2000, two in 2001 and one in 2002.
The 89 yard return of a blocked field goal for a touchdown by Patrick Lamy of Louisiana Lafayette on the final play of the first half may have been the longest ever return of a blocked kick against the Gamecocks. The last blocked kick returned for a touchdown against South Carolina was a nine yard return of a blocked punt by Florida in 1996.
The third quarter seven yard scoring run by sophomore Kenny Irons was his second career touchdown. Iron scored last year on a 30 yard pass reception against Mississippi State.
Mikal Goodman caught six passes for 66 yards, a career high. The three catches for 39 yards by tight end Hart Turner were also a career high. Four catches by Troy Williamson equaled his career high accomplished three times last year.
South Carolina Head Coach Lou Holtz
Defensively, we played really well, but we've got to play a heck of a lot better. We were too soft on the run and gave up too many big plays.
Louisiana Lafayette had a nice game plan. Their coach had a nice game plan. Their back out of the backfield caused us a mismatch.
Our secondary, esp Dunta, Deadre and Ted Crawford played well.
I'm disappointed in the way we played up front. We can play better.
Marcus Lawrence and Jeremiah Garrison played well.
We gave up 12 first down and no points. That's encouraging. It's not where need to be.
Our pass coverage was better.
Ike Crofoot, a freshman walkon snapped well and covered well on punts. Josh Brown punted nice.
We were in punt-safe so much, we didn't want to risk much.
I was disappointed in the field goal kicking and protection. We go from up 14 - 0 to 7 -7, it was a tremendous jump in momentum. But I'm proud of the way we came back.
Demetris got hurt on the first punt return and was held out rest of the first half by the doctors.
The second half, we played better on offense. We didn't force a turnover in the second half.
I told Demetris he would carry the ball on the first play, and I'm a man of my word. He carried on the first series. He got hurt in the ribs on the punt return, after first series.
We just couldn't get the running game going. We had some people open in the first half, and we had a lot of drops in first half.
We did not have a lot of running room. It could be the reads. I'll have to look at the film. We didn't run the ball well.
I'm not sure what the penalty was on the last punt.
I don't think we have a chance against Virginia. We might as well fold it up and take the week off, get some sleep. We are a long way from where we need to be.
I am pleased with the secondary and linebackers, but I've got to look at defensive line.
We are not as physical as we need to be. Offensively, certainly we have some problems.
We gave up four yards too many times. I don't want them to gain a yard.
Defensively, we played with some confidence.
On the blocked field goal: Either it was a slow snap or a slow kick. The concern I had was Josh Brown is a three-step placekicker but a two-step punter.
We never go could get them in a one-dimensional game.
We dropped a whole bundle of passes.
Woody Hayes taught me so much about coaching, about life. I hope I can have the same impact on players that he had.
What is important is to win the game and try to benefit from it, learn from it, and go on.
ULL Head Coach Rickey Bustle
"I am really pleased with our effort tonight. I told the kids not to hang their heads, they played hard and they played well. I don't like to talk about moral victories, but tonight was one of them."
"Our defensive unit played their hearts out. They did a great job tonight. Our defensive staff is doing a great job. We have a little more depth this year on the defensive side. Our secondary played very well."
"[Quarterback] Jerry Babb played well, especially for his first football game. The 80,000 fans were really quiet tonight, with the exception of a few plays. It's always tough to start your first game, let alone in a place like this with 80,000+ fans yelling and screaming, but it didn't seem like 80,000 tonight."
"I was very pleased with our running game. Offensively, our guys worked very hard. We had a good effort on our line to open up some holes for our running game."
QB Jerry Babb
-We wanted to make sure that we were not put in bad situations.
-Good game plan. They didn't show too much that we [did not] expect.
-USC is a good team.
-Defensively, they had a really good game plan.
-[The USC fans] They were loud. It made it tough on us.
RB Travis Smothers
-I just tried to execute [the] plays to the best of my ability.
-I'm still learning the offense.
-I have to give credit to the offensive line. They opened up big holes for me all day.
-I just went out and tried to play hard.
DB Michael Adams
(Blocked field goal at the end of the first half)
-Well, we had the block right play on. I was in because coach [Coach Bustle] knew I could get off the line quick.
-Everything thing in my head said 'I had to make a big play', because I'm not going to get in a lot. I'm only a freshman.
-It felt great to play in front of 80,000 people. It was a great atmosphere.
-[At Halftime] We felt we had a win under our belt.
S Patrick Lamy
(Returned blocked field goal for touchdown in second quarter)
-My job on that play is to make sure there's no fake.
-I think USC is a good team. We fell short but it still feels good. It gives us a little confidence, but we still didn't win.
(on dropped passes) I feel if I get my hands on the ball - it's a drop. I probably relaxed some and wasn't aggressive enough out there. It will stick with me right now (the dropped passes) but a win is a win. We need to come out and give it our best each time.
We played real hard. They (ULL) played really hard and they never gave up. They are not a slouch team - they gave it their all.
(on the college experience): So far it's been great. They said 2-a-days would be really hard and it was, but they helped me a lot. I have a lot of work to do on my blocking and I can adjust to that.
(on the 10 yard gain to start the game) Coach Holtz told me they would let me run the first play of the year. I am glad they stuck to that. It was a 10 yard run and the offensive line did a great job of blocking. Next week though I really need to improve on my blocking. It feels good to come away with a win in my first college game - that's an accomplishment.
We needed to complete more passes. We have to work hard in practice and get together as a unit. We all need to be on the same page. We need to focus and we will play a lot better as a team.
We just wanted to get on the winning side. It's a confidence booster. Now we know what we have to do and we'll get it together. Defensively we played well but not as good as we could have. It's the first game and there are a lot of things we can get corrected.
The new defense - I like it. It gives us a chance to do a lot of new things. Coach Holtz told us to keep playing - he stresses momentum and we'd get turnovers - tonight was good - no touchdowns or field goals - it's a good way to head into the Virginia game.
(on giving Coach Holtz the game ball for passing Woody Hayes in career victories with 239) Travelle and Hart suggested we do it. I thought it was a great idea. When we gave it to him and he said he hoped it wasn't his last win. He didn't show a lot of emotion, thanked us.
(describing dropped passes) It was frustrating. I know I dropped one on a third down. It's tough when you are called onto to make plays and you don't. We have to execute and make the third down and fives and third down and sevens. It's nice to see the new defense - it's totally different and good for the coaches and the team. We have a lot to work on.
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