09/18/03 Thursday USC Football Practice Report

Columbia, S.C. - * USC head coach Lou Holtz announced after Thursday's practice that junior Dondrial Pinkins has retained his starter's role at quarterback following a solid week of practice. Pinkins had been competing with redshirt freshman Bennett Swygert and true freshman Blake Mitchell for the #1 job this week during practice. "Dondrial deserves to remain as the starter," said Coach Holtz. "Based on spring practice, preseason and what he's done this week ...

... he deserves to start Saturday night." Coach Holtz said that Bennett Swygert would be on call ready to play and that Blake Mitchell, while being extremely talented, was still just so young and inexperienced.

Offensive coordinator Skip Holtz said that the coaching staff believes Dondrial gives the Gamecocks the best chance to win as a starting quarterback. "All three quarterbacks did some good things this week," said Skip. "But, I can't look at it and honestly say that the other two (Swygert and Mitchell) give us a better chance to win at the present time. Blake is going to be an excellent quarterback. I wish he was a year older. Mentally, he's not ready yet."

* Dondrial Pinkins said that the week's practice has done everyone some good, not just the quarterbacks. "We were all disappointed with how we performed against Georgia. I know I needed to come out this week and learn from my mistakes and work to become a better quarterback. All of the quarterbacks were pulling for one another this week during practice. We're a family and when things get a little tough, your family pulls together."

* Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said that his unit had experienced a solid week of practice. "We had good focus today; a lot better than last Thursday," said Cosh. "UAB has an excellent quarterback and some good wideouts. They will present us with some problems." Cosh said that USC's starting linebackers would be Lance Laury, Jeremiah Garrison and Marcus Lawrence. Ricardo Hurley has been slowed with an ankle injury and is listed as doubtful.

* Offensive lineman Jabari Levey was at practice Thursday after having surgery on Tuesday to clean up a severe infection in his finger. Levey had his hand heavily wrapped. He is expected to dress Saturday, but it is doubtful if he will play against the Blazers.

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