2004 Gamecocks Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> <A HREF=[PlayerNode:1430271]>Lou Holtz</A> (243-127-7 overall) <br><br> <b>Last Season's Record:</b> 5-7 (4th place in SEC Eastern Division) <br><br> <b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 2002 Outback Bowl (31-28 victory over <A HREF=http://ohiostate.TheInsiders.com>Ohio State</A>) <br><br> <b>Key matchup(s):</b> Sept. 4 @Vanderbilt (Jefferson-Pilot TV), Sept. 11 Georgia (ESPN), Oct. 2 @Alabama, Oct. 30 Tennessee, Nov. 13 @Florida, Nov. 20 @Clemson.

Star Power: Moe Thompson DE 6-3 280 Junior, George Gause DE 6-5 275 Senior, Jermaine Harris SS 6-4 210 Senior, Ricardo Hurley LB 6-3 235 Junior, Marcus Lawrence LB 6-3 240 Senior, Darrell Shropshire NT 6-3 300 Senior, Demetrius Summers TB 6-1 210 Sophomore, Noah Whiteside WR 6-0 180 Sophomore, Troy Williamson WR 6-2 205 Junior.

Notable Additions: Jonathan Joseph CB 6-0 180 Tr-Junior, Marque Hall DT 6-5 305 Freshman, Kevin Mainord DE 6-5 270 Freshman, James Thompson OL 6-4 310 Freshman.

Notable Subtractions: Dunta Robinson (NFL 1st Round Cornerback Houston Texans), Travelle Wharton (NFL 3rd Round Offensive Lineman Carolina Panthers), De'Andre Eiland (NFL 6th Round Cornerback Minnesota Vikings).

Notable Returnees: Charles Silas DE 6-6 290 Tr-Junior, Freddy Saint-Preux DT 6-5 296 Tr-Junior, Jabari Levey OT 6-7 330 Junior, Dondrial Pinkins QB 6-2 245 Senior, Syvelle Newton Ath 6-2 200 Sophomore.

09/18/04South Florida
09/25/04Troy State
Offensive Overview: The fortunes of the Carolina offense this season will begin and end at quarterback. If Dondrial Pinkins stumbles early then Syvelle Newton or Blake Mitchell will be waiting in the wings. South Carolina's offensive line is their strength - the starting five are very talented - and BIG. There will be question marks where depth is concerned until the second unit gains valuable game experience early in the season, and South Carolina will need at least two or three of the newcomers to contribute. The Gamecocks are loaded at tailback with Demetrius Summers, Cory Boyd and Daccus Turman - one of the stronger backfields in the SEC this season. Expect the offense to be multifaceted if their passing game gets on track early in the 2004 campaign. Lou and Skip Holtz intend to pound the ball up the middle and off-tackle but they know it will take a reasonably successful passing game to loosen up defenses this season. Wide receivers Noah Whiteside, Matthew Thomas and Troy Williamson will need to increase their overall production and output for the passing game to get on track - the number one priority for new Wide Receivers' Coach Rick Stockstill is to ensure that his corp group of wide outs learn to catch the ball in key situations. Do not be surprised to see the Gamecocks take advantage of a trio of talented tight ends in Brian Brownlee, Andy Boyd and David Laggis. This is the sleeper group of tight ends in the SEC.

Defensive Overview: Expect big things from the Gamecock Defensive Unit in 2004. They are loaded, especially on the line - talented and deep. With Moe Thompson and George Gause returning at defensive end, and Darrell Shropshire returning at nose tackle, they have laid a solid foundation for success. Jason Capers and Charles Silas are rare two way players capable of playing both tackle and end. Freddy Saint-Preux and Chris Tucker will rotate at the other defensive tackle position aside Shropshire as the Gamecocks move back into a 4-3 set for 2004. Newcomers Kevin Mainord and Marque Hall will contribute almost immediately to what is already a very deep squad. DT Stanley Doughty and DE Eric Stroman will get their licks in as well. What used to be a Spurbacker is now the Apache Back and Rodriguez Wilson and Jamacia Jackson are prepared to man that rover-type position when called upon to do so - and they'll do it in style ... both can play as linebackers or strong safeties. Ricardo Hurley, Marcus Lawrence and Lance Laury give the Gamecocks plenty of pop and experience at linebacker. Senior Jermaine Harris (nephew of Franco Harris) returns as one of the bigger and better free safeties in the league. Newcomer Jonathan Joseph has the skills and physical tools to make an immediate impact at cornerback along with second year, and very athletic, Fred Bennett. This Carolina defense is going to be one to watch. They are big, deep and fast. The most important addition during the off-season may well prove to be new Defensive Coordinator Rick Minter.

Special Teams Overview: Coach Paul Lounseberry has his hands full with special teams this season. While he seems prepared enough in terms of punting and kickoffs - his number one priority has to be finding a field goal kicker during summer practices. South Carolina lost three games in 2003 to Top 25 teams by a combined total of 8 points.

The Carolina Gamecocks will win eight games and go to a nice bowl this season if... they can establish a respectable passing game, which means they have to find a confident quarterback that can convert through the air when the situation arises ... and if their defense is as good as they appear to be. New Defensive Coordinator Rick Minter will be asked to control opposing offenses this season by limiting long third down conversions - something the Gamecocks have failed to do for the past two seasons. If the Carolina Defense is up to the task, the offense will gain momentum and confidence and the Gamecocks could easily be the surprise team in the SEC Eastern Division in 2004. Lou Holtz lives for seasons like this - the seasons where no one is expecting anything from his Gamecocks.

TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview
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