South Carolina Spring Football Practice Report

<b>Columbia, SC</b> - South Carolina went through its fifth practice of the spring Saturday. It was another hard-hitting, physical practice, which has been the norm for the Gamecocks ...

· There were two new injuries to report. Wide receivers Noah Whiteside and Matthew Thomas both suffered ankle sprains and are out indefinitely. Wide receiver Derrick Harper, who sprained his thumb on Friday, did not practice.

· After the workout, head coach Lou Holtz met with the media. Here are some of his comments: "Both of the young quarterbacks (Blake Mitchell and Syvelle Newton) took some big steps today. They both do some good things ... We have had very physical practices. These practices have been the longest and most physical practices we've had since we've been here. That's not by design, it's more by necessity ... (On Rod Wilson playing his fourth position since he came to USC): "Probably one of the biggest mistakes we made was not leaving Rod Wilson at quarterback. He's such an outstanding athlete. He's a good leader and an outstanding person.(when asked what kind of person it took to play that many positions, Holtz said): "I think that's called football. You do what you think is in the best interests of the team."

· Holtz said that linebackers Ricardo Hurley, Marcus Lawrence and Lance Laury, all of whom were banged up at one time or another last season, don't even resemble the same players that they were last season.

· When asked about the kicking game, Holtz said: "Some of the kickers have eliminated themselves from the competition. I'd prefer that Josh Brown not handle both the punting and kicking. Right now, Josh is ourbest punter and Joey Bowers is our best kickoff person. I'm not sure who our best placekicker is right now."

· Coach Holtz said that he thought is was important that the "culture" of the Gamecock program be changed. "Without elaborating, I just think it's important that we do that. It has to do with the way you act, the way you compete, etc. There's a reason why we've only won one championship here at South Carolina (1969 ACC title). I made a commitment after last season to do everything I possibly could to help change that culture."

· Coach Holtx said that he was making an effort to spend more time around his players following practice. "In the past, I'd meet with the media after practice and the players would have already left the locker room. I felt that going by the locker room after practice and visiting with the players was the right thing to do. I've made it a point to do that after each practice. Sometimes I might get on a player pretty good during practice and it's important that I go by there afterwards and tell him why I may have gotten on him."

· Coach Holtz has appointed a Unity Council, which includes members of the various classes, walkons, etc., to serve in part as a sounding board for the team when it comes to various issues. Coach Holtz also meets with the team on Monday evenings and goes over different topics that hopefully the players can apply to their every day lives. His in-season hair and facial hair policy is simply "that it must be neat" in appearance, according to Holtz.

· Offensive lineman Jonathan Alston said the Unity Council has been a good thing. "It's all about that we want to become one and be on the same page," said Alston. "Coach Holtz wants to hear from the players. He's coming around the locker room more and spending time with us off the field."

· Alston said there is a points system that the players go by. While a mistep may cause a player to lose points, a player can regain points by doing a good deed or making sure he takes care of his responsibilities, both on and off the field. "For so long, many people stereotyped the Gamecocks as being a program that was going to lose, no matter what," said Alston. "We're determined to change that stereotype. It involves a lot of little things, but when you put them all together, it can make a difference."

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