Q&A With Todd Ellis

After Lou Holtz's weekly press conference, I spoke with former Gamecock Quarterback and current play-by-play radio broadcaster, Todd Ellis. I got his thoughts on his life at the University of South Carolina, his thoughts on Coach Joe Morrison, the similarities between Joe Mo and Lou Holtz, his play-by-play role, and what he sees for this year's team...

Todd, what brought you to USC?

"Coach Morrison- his attitude and taking programs like New Mexico State and South Carolina into national prominence. Also we played a real tough independent schedule back then and I knew that the following year, (my freshman or red-shirt freshman year), they were losing three or four quarterbacks. I knew I would have a chance to compete for the starting job. The fan base was also there. I just fell in love with that on my visit."

What is your fondest memory as a player?

"Most people would say games or plays, and sure there are some of those, but the camaraderie in the locker room, and everybody working for one purpose, and the sweat effect that goes along with it. There are games and plays, but that is what I remember the most."

What was it like for you when Coach Morrison passed away? "It was hard. I had many conversations with him, and he talked me into coming back and not going pro. Coach Morrison was not a guy who got close or had many personal relationships with players, but I felt closeness with him, and it was very difficult."

With coming back and then getting injured, do you ever regret that decision?

"You can never second-guess yourself. People say you could have gone to Stanford or LSU or other places, but I never look back. I felt with Harold Green and coach Woods' system that the running game could really help the passing game, and I had a good year going too. I played forty-two games without injury, so I am pretty lucky in that regard."

What are the similarities you see with the program under Coach Holtz compared with Coach Morrison?

"Very similar. It is all about fundamentals and being a man's man. The program building coach Holtz did that with the two Outback bowl wins, and now we are starting to see the results of the recruiting classes he's had as a result."

What got you into the play-by-play role of broadcasting?

"I had been doing sideline for several years, then I was asked to do the CSS television play-by-play. Then the University asked about the radio side. I was reluctant at first, but that is what I had been working towards so I decided to take that role."

Do you feel seeing the field through a quarterback's eyes helps you in the booth?

"I feel that I have an advantage. For instance, if there is a post pattern, through my experience as a quarterback, I know there is probably a crossing route from the other side, and a flat curl route. I can usually see what the offense is trying to do. That helps me relate it to the fans, in television you do that some, but in radio, you have to let the fans see exactly what's happening."

What do you see different in this team than you did in the last two years?

"A lot of that is yet to be determined. People don't realize they could lose two or three of these last games and still be better. This team has had no major injuries; they've had nicks and bruises, but nothing like last year. The linebackers were devastated with injuries by mid-season last year, with Marcus Lawrence's back that was killing him, and the Ricardo Hurley ankle. I think the offensive line is one of the best in the country, they haven't always played up to their potential, but they are very good. If you have a line that can block and a defense that can run then you can be successful. I want to see now if they can finish games. If someone makes a big play to beat us, I don't like it but that is the way the football goes. Do they play hard and compete to the end, that's what I want to see."

Ellis is a Gamecock through and through. He has always been and always will be a great ambassador for the University of South Carolina, and I appreciate him taking the time for this interview.

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