Season Opener Draws Near

Columbia, S.C. - With just over two full days remaining until the season opener at Vanderbilt, the South Carolina football team took to the practice fields Wednesday ...

Injuries: Nothing new to report

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.

Lou Holtz Regarding Vanderbilt

"The biggest question I have is not whether we're going to play well or not, but how well we'll react when things go against us, particularly on the road. There's no doubt that a football game has the ups and the downs and things along that line. "

"We do need to take a complete team to Vanderbilt. By a complete team I'm talking about we have to play well on offense, defense, kicking game, but I expect us to do that."

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