Lou And Crew Meet The Press In Hoover

Coach Holtz says that he's more invigorated now than ever before. Here is the remainder of what he had to say plus comments from George Gause and John Strickland ...

Head Coach Lou Holtz

"Last couple of years lost some real heartbreakers. A play here or there away. Then the last game more embarrassed than I've ever been. Go back and say we really aren't a play away. When talk the tradition of S. Carolina FB think of our fans, the loyalty of our fans and their enthusiastic support of the Gamecocks. Even after last year contributions up 11.8 million and we've sold 60,000 season tickets for this season."

"As we go into season more question marks than anybody else here. Open at Vandy, then play Georgia, which will be one of the better teams in the NFL."

"We have question marks at QB. Summers had a wonderful freshman year. But been a history at SC when someone has a good year early in career they don't keep taking it to the next level."

"But you have to improve. How much we improve remains to be seen."

"I have a question about how we will improve on offense. You don't know how it's going to all come togther."

"We have question marks in the secondary and on our pass rush. I can understand how we would be picked sixth in the Estern Division, the way we ended last season. I have questions, I have intrepidations, but at same time I have hope and beliefs and think we'll be a pretty good FB team but pretty good is not good enough in the southeastern conference."

On preseason poll...
"Probably voted with a crayon. Think we have to have a lot of good things happen. Never went into a seaosn I didn't think we were capable of winning the championship, but we have to have a lot of good things happen."

On Polls...
"All coaches complain about preseason polls, if you weren't in top 25 it's going to take a long time to work way up. If picked 14 in country, you have a chance to win the national championship. Coaches complain about it but then they vote in it. You win enough games polls and bowls take care of themselves. Just keep winning."

On Eastern Division top and bottom...
"It is a difficult barrier, because they expect to win and will find a way to win. (top 3 teams). At notre dame go into fourth quarter of close game, expect to win. expect somebody to make a play and step up. Teams have trouble against those three opponents outside this conference as well. We played (Tenn) very close last yaer. We've had great games against Georgia, not play well against them last year. We've played Tenn for last four years, gone down to last 2 minutes of the game. At Florida last year, we have 100-something yards rushing in first quarter then lost two offensive linemen. Can go back and say we're close but we're not. We're light years away when we talk about changing the culture."

"We brought in former South Carolina players from the NFL, just talking to our athletes, think that maybe did more than I've been able to do, the way you think, the way you act. We're not just a play or 2 away, we're light years away."

On his rededication...
"I've always been committed as a FB coach. One of my assets, I've always been a hands on guy. 2 ways you caoch, the modern coach is chairman of the board have an OC and DC, kicking game, you just hold everything together. With the demands on your time, most don't believe they can be hands on. I enjoy it the most when I am in the pits with the people. That's what I meant by rededication, not that had neglected the program or mind is wandering somewhere else. You just have to coach the way you believe iin your heart and that's what im' doing right now. After first three years I felt we were on the right rack."

On preseason expectations...
"When go into a season with great expectations, that also is very powerful with your fans and players when they interact, all excited about the year, have lot of positive thoughts coming into practice, have had a taste of success have to keep raising goals, one of most important things in this world ... reach a level when you've had success and say this is pretty good, let's maintain it. When get comfortable with where you are, you really are truly dying. When I left Notre Dame never thought I'd coach again, thought was tired of coaching but I wasn't. After 2 years at SC, win 2 bowl games, start thinking this is unparallelled, let's just maintain it here … if you have success you don't want to become intoxicated with it."

On changing culture/mindset...
"We changed culture to certain extent, but we did not de-recruit athletes, just being a team. that's my responsibility, nobody else's. I think the athletes coming together and not understanding south carolina, but the talent level is not void at south carolina, we will not win on talent alone, but a freshmen comes in and gets chance to play early but doesn't evolve with the team."

"I think what Saban done at LSU been tremendous. Played against him 2 years. He also had some things to build on. LSU has tradition, going back to Chinese Bandits, going back to Billy Cannon, Billy Cannon changed the game of football. When he made that runa gainst Mississippi on a Saturday night to win the Heisman, he changed the game by the way people think about it."

"But also think LSU is as well coached as any team in this conference or country."

"Only La, Florida, California and Texas exceed South Carolina in turning out players for the NFL. IF South Carolina would keep players in state and not lose to other schools we would have a sitution comparable to LSU. You cannot win without talent, but you can lose with talent and Saban has done a wonderful job."

On Fulmer...
"I would rather talk to a lawyer than the media. He has to make those decisions. He's had so much success, not criticize nor condone it. I have enough problems to handle myself. We play Tennesee and Alabama just want people to be nice to me when I come here as they've been today."

On summer discipline...
"They just weren't on scholarship second session of summer school. Not they're off the team or disciplined, just paid their way to summer school second session."

"We're going to be in game-like condition when we report. We have enough problems we're not going to worry about conditioning."

On Staff changes...
"Always difficult because they're good coaches, just look where they ended up, Kansas State, Iowa, New York Giants. As far as Skip's concerned, I'd lay down my life for him, I love him that much. Think Skip can't caoch go look at his record. He doesn't need me."

On need of a DL...
"One big question makrs we have is pass rush from our front four. When get a pass rush from front four, exceptionally important. That's where your turnovers come, your sacks come. The ability to dominate, stop the run and control the line of scrimmage."

On the class he teaches...
"I felt coulnd't just change the culture by saying want to change the culture. What type of culture are we trying to get? I got much of information from a good friend of mine, coach at ohio state. What we do, meet Monday nights, maybe it be on attitude, give them 15 pages on attitude, they would ready it that week, then when met as a class would go over it page by page. Said to give me an example of good attitude. End of the class would give them next week's chapter which may be on perseverance … what did this mean to you, why are people successful, what does class mean, who has class and who doesn't have class. One person wrote his philosophy, last time anybody asked me what I believed was in kindergarten, and then I believed in superman, batman and spiderman. Why are people successful? Study successful people and programs. Why do people have success. Can't complain about the hand you've been dealt, play it and turn it into a winner. What happens when you need perseverance. I think we went over 200 pages and I put them in a book. Book went to the printer, and we'll go over it again in the fall. Not just talking about FB. For example, respect for authority. Should learn respect for authority at home and it should be reinforced at school. Basic fundamentals of life. All this is not going to help if we don't block and tackle and play together as a team. When things went against us --- and I have to take responsibility."

On Pinkins...
"Dondrial a tremendous young man, great family. A talent. 250 pounds and can run. Strong arm. But isn't very confident. Why is he not? No. 1 we dropped lot of passes, 2 we've not made plays in critical situations. He has to exude confidence to FB team in the huddle, that will be critical and will determine the success he will enjoy or not enjoy."

On changing College football...
"Too much use of hands by offense, points keep putting up. I'd like to see holding defined. Holding is when the official throws a flag and calls you for holding. It varies from conference to conference as well."

"Some of the changes we're anticipating in recruiting are things we've already done. One thinig hope to look at more is private aircraft."

"I do think that in recruiting you always want to expose your school in most favorable light, sometimes you do go overboard, I don't think that's right."

"The changes I've seen in FB are tremendous, gone from single wing to split t to wing T to wishbone to single back to shotgun now back to single wing."

"Used to really get to know an athlete, now only allowed to see an athlete one time off our campus, once he gets to campus limitations on how many times I can see him. Now today more than ever young men need that guidance and opportunity to be around coaches and teammates in organized setting. Now coaches are held responsible for everyone's conduct, fewer chances to be around them and evaluate them in their environment. If going to be responsible should be able to have more contact with them, particularly in recruiting to study their background."

On his future...
"Never put a time limit on it. If you say coach one more year, you've already quit, just passing time. You retire you never get a day off. I am a teacher that's what I enjoy doing, enjoy seeing someone grow and develop and have success, then move on and see success he has. Want to see south carolina win championships. I 've enjoyed trying to utilize every talent that south carolina has and try to recover from difficult situation right now."

On the ACC's growth...
"I don't know, the SEC is awfully good. Don't think there's any doubt the ACC helped themsleves tremendously with the addition of Miami and their great linebacker, with the addition of Virginia Tech, Boston College. Helped selves on TV exposure. But tell you this, Tenn, ga, Alabama, Fla, LSU, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Vandy … this conference is as good as any I've ever been around. Talk about a super conference you talk about this conference."

"Would like to see get back to bowl system where everyone went to a bowl affiliation. Like to see ACC and SEC play every year in the Sugar Bowl, say the Orange Bowl took Big 8, then whatever other conference, then take two or 4 teams from those bowl games and have a national championship game."

"Don't' want to do anything to diminish the bowl system we have now, never taken a team to a bad bowl."

"Everybody say well you're going to miss school, nobody's in school the first week in January. Most people's add-drop list doesn't even end to the middle of January."


South Carolina Center John Strickland

"During the spring, we had a team meeting each week. It brought us together. We're a family and we're not giving up. We have nothing to lose. We want to have a winning season. We want to go to a bowl game. We have our own expectations."

On last season...
"Last season was a hard pill for us to swallow. We lost some close games. The experience has made us work harder and we're focused on the job in front of us."

On goals...
"We're going to play hard. We expect to win. We worked hard in the offseason and our goal is to go out and win games. We're going to take it game by game."

On quarterback situation...
"Dondrial (Pinkins) wants to win. He's a good leader. Syvelle (Newton) has a different style and is good as well. It doesn't matter who plays quarterback, we just want to win. Whoever gets it done is who will play."


South Carolina Defensive End George Gause

On end of last season and preparations for upcoming season...
"It was a freak thing. Our guys are more together now. We've been working hard and showing up. It's important for us to work hard as a team. We have new schemes this season and the players have been working hard. We just have to show up and listen to the coaches."

On start of season against Vanderbilt...
"It's a real big game. Everyone is coming back for them and they are a good team. It should be a good game."

On senior leadership...
"All seniors need to lead. You do it on the field by playing hard."

On the young secondary...
"The whole defense knows what we're trying to do. They'll get the job done."

On Clemson loss last season...
"It was disappointing, but we can't change it now. We're not going to let it happen again."

* South Carolina head football coach Lou Holtz, accompanied by senior defensive end George Gause and senior center John Strickland, attended SEC Football Media Days Thursday in Birmingham, Ala. More than 600 media were in attendance at the event hosted at the Wynfrey Hotel.

* Here are some comments from coach Holtz: "The last couple of years we have lost some heartbreakers. A play or two away. Then, the last game we got embarrassed like I've never been before. I don't think you can say we are a play away. When you talk about the tradition of South Carolina football, you think of our fans. We have the best fans in the country. Their enthusiastic support is second to none. Our season ticket sales are among the top three all-time and our fund-raising is over $11.9 million, which is a record. What we've got to do, is change the culture. The way we think and the way we approach things. That's my responsibility. We need to de-recruit the athletes. We haven't done a good job of that. The talent level is not void at South Carolina, but you can't win on talent alone. ... I taught a class to the team this spring. We met on Monday nights and went over things like attitude, perseverance, what it takes to be successful, how to handle yourself with class; those types of things. But, all of this is not going to help if we don't block and tackle and play together as a team ... Our team may have more question marks than any other team here. We have question marks at quarterback. Demetris Summers had a wonderful first year, but he's got to improve. We have question marks in the secondary and with our pass rush. But, at the same time I have hopes and beliefs that we can be a pretty good football team ... but as you know, pretty good is not good enough in the SEC ... I feel rejuventated. Not that I had neglected the program, but I've got to go back and coach the way I believe in my heart and that's what I intend to do ... I've never put a timetable on my future. If you say you are only going to coach one more year, then you've already quit. You're just passing time. If you retire, you never get a day off. Think about it. I am a teacher and that's what i enjoy doing. I enjoy seeing someone grow and develop and have success."

* Comments from senior George Gause: "Our team is more together now. We've been working hard and coming together. We have some new defensive schemes and if we listen to the coaches and execute, we can have success ... Vanderbilt is a huge game. Everyone is coming back for them and they are going to be really good. ... I want to be a senior leader. You do it by playing hard and setting a good example, on and off the field. "

* Comments from senior John Strickland: "During the spring, we met as a team each week. We're a family and we're not giving up. We want to have a winning season and we want to go to a bowl. Last season was a hard pill to swallow. We lost some close games. The experience made us work harder and become more focused on the task ahead ... Dondrial Pinkins wants to win. Syvelle Newton had a different style and can make plays. It doesn't matter who plays quarterback; we just want to win. Whoever gets the job done will be the quarterback."

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