Season Opens This Week

The South Carolina Gamecocks (0-0/0-0) open up their 111th college football season this Saturday, Sept. 4, as they take on Southeastern Conference foe the Vanderbilt Commodores (0-0/0-0). Kickoff at Dudley Field at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., is 12:33 p.m. (eastern time). The opener will be televised across the SEC network by Jefferson Pilot Sports. Dave Neal (play-by-play), Dave Rowe (color analyst) and Dave Baker (sideline reporter) will call the action ...

For Openers - This marks the first time since 1999 that the Gamecocks have opened their football season on the road. That year - Coach Lou Holtz's first year at USC - saw the Gamecocks travel to Raleigh, N.C., to face the North Carolina State Wolfpack. NCSU shut out Carolina that rainy evening 10-0. This also is the first time since 1995 that USC has opened its campaign against an SEC opponent. That year, Carolina played Georgia in Athens. In fact, from 1992-95, the Gamecocks opened their season against Georgia. Carolina and Vanderbilt have never met in a season opener ... USC is 70-36-4 in season openers. At home, Carolina is 65-18-4 in season opening games. On the road, USC is just 5-18 in season openers ... South Carolina has won its last four season openers ... In season openers against SEC opponents, USC is 1-3.

Series Notes - USC leads the series vs. Vanderbilt 11-2. In Nashville, USC is 6-1 vs. Vandy ... The Gamecocks have won the last four meetings against the Commodores ... Vandy's last win in the series was in 1999 (11-10 in Columbia). The Commodores' last win in Nashville was in 1998 (17-14).

The Last Two Meetings10/25/03, Columbia, S.C., USC-35, Vanderbilt 24 ... South Carolina raced to a 28-3 lead and held off a late Vanderbilt rally to post a 35-24 decision before 77,227 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium. Dondrial Pinkins was 13-21-0 for 161 yards and one touchdown -- a 16 yard scoring pass to Cory Boyd. Pinkins did most of his damage with his legs, rushing for 50 yards on 10 carries and three touchdowns. Daccus Turman led Carolina with 94 yards rushing on 15 carries. Troy Williamson had five catches for 85 yards. Vanderbilt put together scoring drives of 89, 82, and 95 yards. VU quarterback Jay Cutler completed 27 of 35 passes for 319 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. Defensively for USC, end Moe Thompson's first quarter interception helped set up a three-yard run by Boyd. Vanderbilt outgained the Gamecocks 456-379 in total yards. Jeremiah Garrison led all tacklers with 10 total hits and one fumble recovery ... 9/28/02, Nashville, Tenn., USC 20, Vanderbilt 14 ... USC relied on a ball control offense in the fourth quarter and its defense came up big down the stretch to preserve the Gamecocks' hard-fought 20-14 victory. Quarterback Corey Jenkins rushed for 97 yards and one touchdown for USC, while Troy Williamson had four receptions for 75 yards and one TD. Trailing 14-10 late in the third quarter, Carolina took the lead for good on Jenkins' 12-yard run with 4:05 remaining in the period. Daniel Weaver closed out the scoring with a 29-yard field goal with 1:41 left in the game.

A Closer Look - South Carolina returns 16 starters (nine offense/six defense/one specialist). Vanderbilt returns 21 starters - the most of any team in the SEC (10 offense/11 defense) ... USC is looking to rebound from consecutive 5-7 seasons. Vanderbilt is coming off of back-to-back 2-10 campaigns ... USC head coach Lou Holtz is 7-1 vs. Vanderbilt during his career. He is 4-1 vs. the Commodores since he's been at South Carolina. Coach Holtz was 2-0 vs. Vandy while he was the coach at Notre Dame and was 1-0 vs. the `Dores while he was at Arkansas. Coach Holtz's 1996 Notre Dame team opened the season at Vanderbilt, winning 14-7 ... Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson is 0-2 vs. the Gamecocks. Coach Johnson is a native of Columbia, graduate of Clemson and former head coach at Furman University.

Carolina Close Up - In each of the past two seasons, the Gamecocks have come up one victory short in their attempt to become bowl eligible. Carolina had the best two-year run in school history from 2000-01, posting 8-4 and 9-3 records and winning consecutive Outback Bowl championships against Ohio State ... The Gamecocks are likely to start five seniors on offense and six seniors on defense ... Dondrial Pinkins is expected to get the starting nod at quarterback. The fifth-year senior threw for 2,127 yards a year ago - the ninth best single-season total in school history. For his career, Pinkins has thrown for 2,579 yards (11th all-time) with 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, while completing .497 percent of his passes ... Center John Strickland is on the pre-season watch list for the Rimington Award ... USC's starting offense line averages 310 pounds across the front ... Expected to make their first career starts this Saturday include wide receiver Noah Whiteside; free safety Ko Simpson and cornerback Fred Bennett ... Season ticket sales for Carolina home games are once again on a steady pace. The Gamecocks are expected to sell nearly 60,000 season tickets in 2004 ... A record $11.9 million was raised by the Gamecock Club, USC's athletic fund-raising arm, last year ... The Gamecock football team had its best academic semester ever, posting a 2.592 grade point average last spring ... Receivers Troy Williamson and Matthew Thomas own the two longest touchdown receptions in USC history. Williamson had a school-record 99-yard catch and run vs. Virginia last season. Thomas was on the receiving end of a 98-yard touchdown bomb last season vs. Ole Miss. Both touchdown passes were thrown by Dondrial Pinkins ... Syvelle Newton, USC's back-up quarterback, played wide receiver in 2003 and had 22 receptions for 277 yards. Newton was an all-state quarterback in high school at Marlboro County (S.C.) ... USC returns its top four rushers from a year ago. Daccus Turman led the way with 646 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns. Demetris Summers tallied 638 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and three touchdowns and Pinkins picked up 254 yards and five TDs. Cory Boyd rushed for 232 yards and three scores ... Four of the five offensive line starters from last season return. Only Travelle Wharton, the all-star left tackle who was a third-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers, is gone. Jabari Levey (LT), John Strickland (C), Jonathan Alston (RG) and Na'Shan Goddard (RT) all started at least seven games a year ago ... Tight end Brian Brownlee has two touchdown receptions during his career -- both came last year vs. Clemson ... Moe Thompson and George Gause are regarded to be among the top pair of defensive ends in the SEC. Thompson was a pre-season All-SEC selection. The two combined for 10 quarterback sacks and nine tackles for loss last season ... Jason Capers has proven to be a versatile defender for the Gamecocks. Capers can play both the tackle and end positions in USC's four-man front. The senior is expected to start at tackle this Saturday against Vanderbilt ... Darrell Shropshire had four tackles for loss last year as a junior college transfer and started all 12 games at tackle ... Linebacker Ricardo Hurley appears to be healthy this season. The junior was hobbled with an ankle injury throughout much of the 2003 campaign. Two seniors -- Marcus Lawrence and Rodriques Wilson -- are slated to start at the other linebacker slots. Wilson started four games at safety last season, but was moved to outside linebacker during spring drills ... The Gamecocks will feature some new faces in the secondary this fall. Gone is cornerback Dunta Robinson, the #1 draft pick of the Houston Texans, but there seem to be four solid performers who are up to the task. Tremaine Tyler and Fred Bennett are listed as the starters, backed up by Jonathan Joseph and Taqiy Muhammad ... A true freshman, Ko Simpson, is expected to start at free safety. Simpson signed with Carolina in 2003, but did not enroll until last spring semester. He did go through spring practice. Another true freshman, Chris Hampton, is listed as his back-up. Two seniors are battling for the starting berth at strong safety -- Jamacia Jackson and Jermaine Harris ... Josh Brown is likely to handle both the placekicking and the punting chores. Joey Bowers will kick off and also punt in certain situations .. Three members of the Gamecock squad earned their bachelor's degree last May -- LB Rodriques Wilson, DT Preston Thorne, and OG Jonathan Alston. Carolina Coaching Staff Lou Holtz has assembled a high quality and versatile coaching staff. Four of USC's assistants have head coaching experience, including Skip Holtz (Connecticut); Rick Minter (Cincinnati); Ron Cooper (Eastern Michigan, Louisville, Alabama A&M); and Dave Roberts (Western Kentucky, Northeast Louisiana, Baylor). Collectively, the staff has coached in 69 post-season bowl games, won a national championship, coached a Heisman Trophy winner, and coached two Lombardi Award winners. A look at Coach Holtz's coaching career is included on page five of this release. Here is a quick look at Coach Holtz's assistant coaches:

Skip Holtz, assistant head coach/quarterbacks -- Begins his sixth season at USC ... One of his prize pupils was Phil Petty, who quarterbacked the Gamecocks to a school-best 17 victories and consecutive Outback Bowl crowns in 2000 and 2001 ... Former head coach at Connecticut, he guided that program to a level of success which helped pave the way for it to obtain Division 1-A status ... Was offensive coordinator at Notre Dame in 1992-93 ... Also coached at Florida State and Colorado State.

Rick Minter, defensive coordinator/linebackers -- Begins his first season at USC ... Former head coach at Cincinnati from 1994-03 ... Won more game than any other coach in the history of Cincinnati football ... Led the Bearcats to four post-season bowl games ... Was defensive coordinator at Notre Dame from 1992-93, a two-year period which saw the Fighting Irish rank among the nation' stingiest defenses, helping the team win back-to-back Cotton Bowls ... During his two seasons at Notre Dame, he coached 18 defensive players who went on to play professionally in the NFL ... Became associated with Lou Holtz in 1978, when he worked as a graduate assistant at Arkansas ... Also coached at Louisiana Tech, North Carolina State (where he worked alongside Lou Holtz again), New Mexico State and Ball State.

Ron Cooper, defensive backs -- Begins his first season at USC ... Former head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M ... Worked with Lou Holtz at Notre Dame from 1991-92, a two-year period in which the Irish won the Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl ... Also coached at Mississippi State, Wisconsin, UNLV, East Carolina, Murray State and Austin Peay ... First worked under Coach Holtz as a graduate assistant at Minnesota.

Paul Lounsberry, tight ends/special teams -- Begins his fifth season with the Gamecocks ... Has also coached the defensive front and offensive line during his stint at Carolina ... Served as offensive coordinator at Central Florida for 13 seasons ... Recruited and coached quarterback Daunte Culpepper at UCF, who now stars for the Minnesota Vikings ... Also has coaching experience at Florida.

Jappy Oliver, defensive line -- Begins his second year at USC ... Coached the defensive ends in 2003 ... Worked eight years as defensive line coach at the Air Force Academy, where he worked under the legendary Fisher DeBerry and helped lead the Falcons to five bowl games ... Also has coaching experience at Vanderbilt, Western Illinois, Grand Valley State, the Naval Academy, Northeastern and Eastern Michigan.

David Reaves, defensive backs assistant -- Begins his first full-time season at Carolina, after having served as a graduate assistant for two years ... Will work with the safeties ... Comes from a football family, as his father, John, was an All-America quarterback at Florida and later played in the NFL ... His father also coached at Florida and at South Carolina (1996-97) ... David's brother, Steven, plays quarterback at Michigan State University.

Dave Roberts, running backs -- Begins his sixth season at USC ... Has also coached the spurs and tight ends while at Carolina ... Coordinated USC's recruiting efforts for five years and helped the Gamecocks land back-to-back top 10 nationally ranked recruiting classes -- a first in the program's history ... Former head coach at Baylor, Northeast Louisiana and Western Kentucky ... Coached alongside Lou Holtz at Notre Dame from 1994-96 ... Also coached at Vanderbilt, Davidson and Eastern Kentucky.

Steve Shankweiler, offensive line -- Begins his first season at USC ... Was offensive line coach at Cincinnati under Rick Minter during the 2003 season ... Also has coaching experience at East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Western Kentucky and The Citadel ... Worked as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Georgia Tech (1992-94).

Rick Stockstill, wide receivers -- Begins his first season at USC ... Has recruited 19 players that have been drafted or signed free agent contracts over the past seven years ... Came to Carolina after serving as offensive coordinator at East Carolina in 2003 ... Spent 14 seasons (1989-02) on the staff at Clemson, where he helped develop some of the school's most proficient offenses and recruit some of the program's most successful offensive performers, including Raymond Priester (career rushing leader), Woodrow Dantzler (all-time leading passer), and all-time leading receivers Rod Gardner and Derrick Hamilton ... Also has coached at Central Florida and Bethune-Cookman ... Played quarterback for Bobby Bowden at Florida State.

Offensive Thumbnails - Here's a quick rundown of some of USC's key personnel on offense for 2004:

#72 Jonathan Alston, OG -- Returning starter, he is slated to line up at right guard ... Started nine games in 2003 ... Physically fit player who has worked extremely hard to prepare for his senior season ... Missed five days of practice with an ankle sprain the week prior to the season opener vs. Vanderbilt

# 3 Cory Boyd, RB -- True sophomore who showed flashes of brilliance in 2003 ... Rushed for 232 yards and three touchdowns a year ago ... Also had 11 receptions for 145 yards and one score ... Combines quickness with power in his running style.

#39 Brian Brownlee, TE -- Senior leader who is expected to be the starter at tight end ... Had 11 receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns in 2003 ... Both TD's came in the season finale against Clemson ... Played linebacker his first two years at USC.

#70 Na'Shan Goddard, OT -- Starter at right tackle ... Started 11 games in 2003 ... Has developed into a high-quality SEC offensive lineman ... Possesses good athleticism and foot work ... Has also seen time at guard and center.

#26 Gonzie Gray, RB -- Senior who is looking to close out his career on a positive note ... May have been the biggest surprise of spring practice ... Scored two touchdowns in the Spring Game ... Has good speed.

#78 Jabari Levey, OT -- Starting left tackle ... Has size and quickness to become an excellent player ... Started seven games at guard in 2003 ... He and Goddard could rank among the top pair of offensive tackles in the SEC.

#13 Syvelle Newton, QB -- Sophomore who is expected to be a factor at quarterback ... Played receiver in 2003, with 12 catches for 277 yards and a long reception of 44 yards (vs. Kentucky and LSU) ... Extremely talented athlete who was an all-state quarterback at Marlboro County High School.

#5 Dondrial Pinkins, QB -- Returning starter at quarterback ... In 2003, he threw for 2,127 yards and 10 touchdowns ... Received the Joe Morrison Award for offense (MVP) during spring practice ... Has thrown the two longest touchdown passes in South Carolina history -- a 99-yarder to Troy Williamson vs. Virginia in 2003 and a 98-yard TD to Matthew Thomas vs. Ole Miss in 2003 ... The 99-yarder is the fifth longest play in school history ... Became the first quarterback in Division 1-A history to throw two touchdown passes of 98 yards or more in his career ... His career totals are 197-396-13 for 2,579 yards and 14 touchdowns.

#74 John Strickland, C -- Senior leader who is the returning starter at center ... Named to the preseason watch list for the Rimington Trophy (nation's top collegiate center) ... Has developed into a very good SEC center.

#31 Demetris Summers, RB -- True sophomore who is looking to continue his development into a big-time running back ... Turned some heads in 2003 with his rushing performances vs. UAB (161 yards) and Tennessee (158 yards) ... Became the first USC freshman since Thomas Dendy in 1982 to rush for 100 or more yards in consecutive games ... Named to the SEC All-Freshman squad ... Finished his rookie campaign with 638 yards rushing and three touchdowns (all vs. UAB). ... Also had 11 catches for 146 yards and two TDs ... Will also be utilized as a kick return specialist ... Parade Magazine All-America at Lexington High School.

#15 Matthew Thomas, WR -- Veteran receiver who enters the season opener with 32 career receptions for 749 yards and three touchdowns ... Also has 31 kickoff returns for 646 yards and one TD (95 yards vs. Virginia in 2002) ... Caught a 98-yard touchdown pass from Dondrial Pinkins in 2003 vs. Ole Miss ... Started nine games in 2003 and three games in 2002 ... Played some cornerback in 2002.

#32 Daccus Turman, RB -- Junior who is a hard-nosed runner and blocker ... Team's leading rusher in 2003 with 646 yards and seven touchdowns ... Excellent runner between the tackles ... Broke Herschel Walker's single-season rushing record in the state of Georgia with 3,167 yards his senior year at Washington-Wilkes High School.

#60 Chris White, OG -- Will start at left guard ... Can also play center ... Came back from a medical redshirt season in 2003 to play a significant role along the offensive line ... Sat out the 2002 campaign after injuring his neck during preseason camp.

#1 Noah Whiteside, WR -- True sophomore who looks to have come into his own as a bonafide wide receiver ... In 2003, he caught nine balls for 97 yards and two touchdowns (both vs. Ole Miss) ... Against the Rebels, he had TD receptions of 33 yards and 20 yards, with the 20-yard grab being one for the highlight reel ... Can also return punts.

Defensive & Specialists Thumbnails - Here is a quick rundown on some of USC's key personnel on defense and special teams:

#8 Fred Bennett, CB -- True sophomore who will start at one of the cornerback positions ... Saw action on special teams and as a backup in 2002 ... Had an excellent spring and preseason camp ... Named the most improved defensive back of spring practice.

#90 Joey Bowers, K/P -- Senior who will handle the kick off chores ... Also serves as the backup punter ... Punted 21 times for a 39.6 average in 2003 ... Had a long punt of 54 yards vs. Georgia ... Had 11 of his punts downed inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

#87 Josh Brown, K/P -- Junior who will handle the punting and placekicking chores ... Had a 40.5 punting average in 2003 ... Booted a career-best 64-yarder vs. Florida ... His best day may have come against Ole Miss, when he averaged 48 yards on four punts.

#90 Jason Capers, DT -- Veteran who has developed into a valuable member of the defensive front ... Can also play defensive end ... Moved over to tackle and will start there alongside Darrell Shropshire ... Started five games in 2003 ... Makes up for his lack of mass with his quickness off the ball.

#99 George Gause, DE -- Should rank among the top defensive ends in the SEC ... Named the most consistent defensive performer of the spring ... Has 10 career quarterback sacks and 13.5 career tackles for loss ... Has forced five fumbles during his career ... Named to the SEC All-Freshman team in 2001.

#33 Chris Hampton, FS -- True freshman who has been impressive during preseason camp ... Is undersized for the time being, but he seems to make up for his lack of size with a nose for the football ... Is currently backing up Ko Simpson at free safety.

#6 Jermaine Harris, SS -- Senior leader who has emerged as a quality defender ... Started five games at safety a year ago ... Will compete with Jamacia Jackson for starting berth at strong safety in 2004 ... May have the best sense of humor on the ball club.

#42 Ricardo Hurley, LB -- Appears to be healthy heading into the 2004 season, which wasn't the case a year ago ... Was hampered with nagging ankle and knee injuries ... Has had an excellent preseason camp ... Came to Carolina has a highly touted linebacker and was listed by some recruiting gurus as the #1 linebacker prospect in the country.

#16 Jamacia Jackson, SS -- Senior who is looking to have his best season to date ... Started seven games at safety in 2003 ... Has 95 career tackles ... Provides solid run support.

#9 Jonathan Joseph, CB -- First-year player who transferred in from Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College ... Went through spring practice ... Coaching staff is very high on his future ... Had off-season shoulder surgery ... Competing with Tremaine Tyler for starting berth.

#51 Orus Lambert, LB -- Redshirt junior who has come on to earn a shot at some significant playing time at linebacker ... Will back up Marcus Lawrence in the middle ... Plays exceptionally well against the run.

#48 Lance Laury, LB -- Another solid linebacker who looks to be healthier than he was a year ago ... Was slowed with a sore knee for much of the 2003 campaign ... Started 11 of the 12 games in 2003 ... Selected Freshman All-America in 2002, as his 90 total tackles ranked third highest on the team.

#46 Marcus Lawrence, LB -- Starting middle linebacker ... Team's second leading tackler in 2003 with 99 total hits ... Led the squad with 9.5 tackles for loss ... Was in on a career-best 12 tackles against Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas.

#14 Taqiy Muhammad, CB -- Senior who will back up Fred Bennett at cornerback ... Versatile player who has also played receiver during his career ... Donates much of his time to working in the community and serving others.

#57 Darrell Shropshire, DT -- Senior who is gearing up for a big year in 2004 ... Started all 12 games a year ago after transferring from Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College ... Missed a couple days of practice last week while recovering from some dental work.

#10 Ko Simpson, FS -- True freshman who originally signed with the Gamecocks in 2003 but did not enroll until the spring semester, 2004 ... As a result, he was able to go through spring practice ... Talented young player who has nailed down the starting role at free safety.

#91 Moe Thompson, DE -- Preseason All-SEC candidate ... Combines with George Gause to provide USC with a duo of outstanding defensive ends ... Named honorable mention All-SEC by the Associated Press in 2003 ... Had five sacks and five tackles for loss to go along with his 60 total tackles.

#94 Preston Thorne, DT -- Senior who has come back from major knee surgery to earn a spot on the depth chart ... Was the starting nose guard until he tore ligaments in his knee against UAB last season ... Will back up Jason Capers at defensive tackle. #23 Tremaine Tyler, CB -- Has come on to earn a starting berth at cornerback ... Appeared in all 12 games with one start a year ago ... Had his first career interception last season vs. LSU.

#25 Cody Wells, LB -- Redshirt freshman who was moved to outside linebacker during fall camp ... Had previously been working at safety ... While he may be undersized, the coaches are excited about his aggressive style of play.

#11 Rodriques Wilson, LB -- Senior leader who started at safety a year ago ... Moved to outside linebacker during the spring and has nailed down a starting role at that position ... Originally recruited as a quarterback to USC.

ODDS AND ENDS - Two of USC's assistant coaches - Dave Roberts and Jappy Oliver - were also assistants at Vanderbilt during their coaching careers. Roberts, who is in his sixth season at USC and coaches the running backs, was on the staff Vandy from 1979-83 when he served under head coach George MacIntyre. The 1982 Commodores won their last five regular season games and advanced to the Hall of Fame Bowl ... Oliver coached at Vanderbilt from 1991-94, working under head coach Gerry DiNardo ... South Carolina's roster lists three players from the state of Tennessee. Free safety Chris Hampton and quarterback Antonio Heffner are freshmen from Memphis. Defensive tackle Kevin Mainord is a freshman from Coalmont. Vanderbilt has two players from South Carolina -- quarterback Steven Bright is from Greer and tight end Nick Brigham is from Leesville....USC may boast having the oldest player in college football on its team. Tim Frisby is a 39-year-old former U.S. Army Ranger who walked on the Gamecock squad last spring. He came back to the team when school started and will continue to work out with the squad as a wide receiver. In the dress rehearsal scrimmage Aug. 27, Frisby caught a 14-yard pass from quarterback Mike Rathe ... More than 6,000 Gamecock fans are expected to make the trip to Nashville this weekend ... South Carolina will host its first annual "Salute to Carolina" this Wednesday, Sept. 1 at the Colonial Center. The event, which will recognize the 2004 Gamecock football team, begins with dinner on the arena floor at 7 p.m. Those fans that decide not to purchase tickets to the dinner are invited to come in and sit in the arena bowl at 7:30 p.m. The program will start at 8 and include comments from USC President Andrew Sorensen, Athletics Director Mike McGee and keynote remarks from head coach Lou Holtz. The entire team will be in attendance and two of the players will speak on behalf of the team. The cheerleaders and Cocky will entertain the crowd. There will be fireworks and a light show, along with two new videos. Football analysis from baseball coach Ray Tanner, track and field coach Curtis Frye and volleyball coach Kim Hudson will also be offered.

Scouting Vanderbilt * Vanderbilt returns 21 starters (10 offense/11 defense) -- the most of any team in the SEC.

* Jay Cutler is a three-year starter at quarterback. Cutler was named to the preseason All-SEC second team (just behind Georgia's David Greene). The two-time team captain has started the last 18 games and before his career is concluded, he should go down as one of the finest quarterbacks in school history. Cutler threw for 2,347 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, including a career-high 319 yards against South Carolina, a game in which he completed 21 of 23 passes in the second half. He finished with a 57.2 percent completion rate last year. Cutler is a dual threat, as he racked up 299 yards rushing last year.

* Vanderbilt returns both of its starting running backs. Norval McKenzie and Kwane (Kwah-nay) Doster rank among the top tailbacks in the SEC. McKenzie rushed for 639 yards last season while Doster was a Freshman All-America in 2002 after rushing for 798 yards.

* The Commodores return their top eight receivers, in terms of receptions, from last year's ball club. Erik Davis has more receiving yards (638) and touchdown receptions (8) than any SEC receiving returning from last year. Brandon Smith had 39 catches for 595 yards last year, while Marlon White was named to the SEC All-Freshman squad a year ago.

* The offensive line is anchored by left tackle Justin Geisinger (GUY-zinger), who is a Lombardi and Outland Trophy candidate and preseason All-SEC selection. Brian Stamper is also back at right tackle after starting nine games last year as a true freshman. Vanderbilt's offensive line features outstanding size and experience.

* Defensively, Vanderbilt features one of the SEC's top players in end Jovan Haye. Haye was among the SEC leaders with 8.5 quarterback sacks last season. Linebacker Moses Osemwegie (Oh-SEM-uh-gee) is likewise an All-SEC candidate and can play any of the linebacker positions. Those two may be the best at their position in the conference.

* Head coach Bobby Johnson begins his third season at Vanderbilt. The Columbia, S.C., native was the successful head coach at Furman for eight seasons and was named Division 1-AA National Coach of the Year in 2001 after leading Furman to the national championship game. Johnson was defensive coordinator at Clemson in 1993 and also served in the role of defensive coordinator and/or assistant coach at Furman for 16 seasons. Johnson is a 1973 graduate of Clemson.

What's Next* South Carolina returns home to play host to SEC rival and nationally ranked Georgia, Saturday, Sept. 11. Game time at Williams-Brice Stadium is 5:30 p.m. with ESPN televising nationally.

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