Q: Russ, What in the world has happened to Daccus Turman? You never hear anything about him anymore.
Richard C., Orlando, FL
A: Daccus is still around and working hard Richard. He'll get his carries this year and he has earned the chance by getting his act together. I was having breakfast with another member over the summer and we ran into Daccus at the I-Hop early one morning. Daccus is a changed man. He'll also be changing roles some this year as he will probably see more time blocking as an up-back than carrying the ball as a tailback. Another reason he has not been mentioned much is because he is going to have to sit out that first game as part of the penalty for his role in the brawl up at Clemson.
Q: Rooster, who are the top prospects on Steve Spurrier's list to sign this season? While you are at it, who will be the next commitment for the Gamecocks?
Bob B., Dillon, SC
A: As far as the next to commit is concerned Bob, that's always a shot in the dark. Right now I would say maybe Byron Isom or Willie Harper. But the next commitment could come from in state as well. You never know. What I do know is that South Carolina's name is popping up all over the country with the blue chippers these days. Moreso than we have ever witnessed in the past. So if you will, allow me to suggest that Coach Spurrier would like to sign players in the next class, quality players, that want to be here and want to wear Garnet and Black and be a part of the family. A lot is being made of Gamecock fans in the national press right now and that is likely to peak the first three weeks of the season with the coverage we are getting. Let's hope we make the most of that. What I guess I am trying to say is that we will have a much better feel for where we stand with the highly ranked blue chippers after those first three games - ask me again then and I will be able to offer a reasonably accurate answer.
Q: Is North Carolina going to duck us forever? What is the latest on scheduling them?
Sam W., Apex, NC
A:I feel your pain Sam. I've spent a lot of time up near your neck of the woods over the years and if you have a USC tag on your car the Tarheel and Wolfpack fans will try to make your life miserable. NC State fans are not nearly as bad as the Tarheel fans are they? We need to play them. It would be good for both states but, and I hate to say this, they are afraid of us. They were afraid of us when Lou Holtz was here. I know Lou wanted to play them. Now that Steve Spurrier is here they are obviously terrified of us. However, Eric Hyman is a North Carolina boy and if anyone can possibly negotiate a game with UNC it is Hyman. I know Mike McGee was too but Mike was had a Duke background. Hyman is Tarheel alumni and he has connections up there. As far as the details go, I believe the snag is in that UNC is insisting we play on a so-called neutral field in Charlotte - which of course would be an advantage for them because "house tickets" might be easily steered in the direction of UNC fans. We'd prefer a home and home series but frankly, I think most SC fans would just like to play the game no matter where. As a matter of fact I hear a lot of fans saying it should be a yearly game held in Charlotte and played along the lines of the Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL every year. The games will happen eventually. UNC fans are going to grow tired of us shaming them into the game and sooner or later they will start applying pressure to their powers that be to schedule a couple of games with us. Like Spurrier said, it takes two to tango.
Q: Russ, why do you not do more detailed practice reports?
Mike C., Columbia, SC
A: Mike, we post every single SID released official practice report. And at times in the past, if something noteworthy happens at practice, we'll include other observations. However, I am against 'making news' and if anyone can deduce anything from the early practices, those that happen before the doors are closed, then good for them. I've said it over and over again, Spring and early Summer practices mean nothing other than what they are meant to mean ... a chance for players to work their way up the depth chart in time for closed practices the second half of August. Coach Spurrier tells us everything we need to know in his post practice interviews. We get injury reports from the SID via the team trainer. Anything I or anyone else might offer would be pure conjecture and I just will not turn that into front page stuff. We do talk a lot about practices and what we see when members ask questions about practices on the Digital Perch. But none of it is front page worthy and I will never rehash free material and turn it into premium content. However, if there is anything else that you would like to see, PM me with specific wants and needs and I will do my best to provide it to you Mike. I know you mentioned more player interviews in the entire text of your PM to me and we will certainly try to accomidate you on that when possible. Most of what you are going to hear from them are cliches, but I understand the need for more of that sort of thing so I will do my best to do more of those.
Q: Rooster, how desperate are we on the offensive line?
James S., Georgetown, SC
A: That may be the most commonly asked question this season so far James. I really do not believe that anyone knows for sure exactly how well this offensive line is going to perform for us during the 2005 campaign. In past seasons we have seen poorly thought-of groups turn into some of the best we have ever had. In turn we have seen highly touted groups of offensive linemen flop. The offensive line, probably more than any other group on the field, are dependant upon one another to play as a unit. A lot of their success will have to do with chemistry. Another part of this year's line that is interesting to me is that this group is challenged by the lack of confidence they seem to be garnering thus far. I honestly believe this group of young men might surprise us. With that said, there does not appear to be enough depth on the offensive line and there is a lack of experience up the middle where most of your running game occurs. If we cannot run the ball then opposing defenses will not let us pass the ball either. They will just pin their ears back and come after whoever is behind center. But there is potential on our offensive line. James Thompson, Jamon Meredith, Chris White, Freddy Saint Preux, William Brown ... these are the guys that are going to make us or break us this season in the trenches. Watch their numbers early and you will get a feel for what we are going to do this season. If they are getting after it and being agressive and taking their jobs seriously and their early failures personally ... then we might be ok. Central Florida's defensive line is improved so they will be a good test for our offensive line early.
Q: Russ, what is the hold up with the baseball stadium?
John B., Atlanta, GA.
A: The Columbia City Council. It is frustrating and it is enough to make you angry if you follow it closely. That's why I have quit trying to figure them out. There are a couple of council members who I believe revel in their ability to throw wrenches in the gears of every expansion plan USC brings before them. Unlike most SEC cities, the Columbia City Council has a history of making things difficult for their hometown school at times and they always want to blame it on USC or claim that USC is trying to take the city over. It's as old as Moses in our state's capital and at times it really wants to make you shake your head in disbelief. I believe the latest hold up is that the council is claiming it is concerned about a "Perfect Storm" scenario where events were being held at the Colonial Center, the Carolina Coliseum and the new baseball stadium all at the same time. They are worried about traffic flow of all things. The word I received when I called to inquire about the latest delay is that this should be worked out within the next couple of weeks and construction should get underway sometime in September. But when you are dealing with politicians, never count on anything to get done the easy way and in a timely fashion. That's all I really know to share with you at the moment.
Q: Rooster, you mentioned on the message boards that we will be lucky to keep Coaches Thompson and Nix around for long? Why? And where are they planning on going?
George S., Knoxville, TN.
A: I received a number of PMs about that post so let me clear that up a bit. What I was trying to convey is that these two coaches are so dynamic and so personable that if we realize major success on the defensive side of the ball this year and next, both will be hot commodities as head coaching prospects. Schools will come calling for them to move up in their profession. That is how good they are. Both are sharp and both are well liked by their players. In turn, both appear to be excellent recruiters and that is important to any school looking for a new head coach. It is a double-edged sword to have excellent position coaches because when they do great jobs they usually move on and up the ladder in the coaching ranks. It hurts the stability of your staff but at the same time it signals that your program is a good place to coach and be recognized for doing a good job. National TV exposure plays a big factor in that these days. Having Steve Spurrier on your resume doesn't hurt either.
Q: Rooster, who is the biggest jerk in the media that you know of?
John H., Columbia, SC
A: That is a question I am asked a lot. Not necessarily in those words, but close enough. There are no jerks that I know of out there. There are some guys who I disagree with as far as their approach is concerned. A couple of the guys seem to dig for negatives far harder than they dig for positives. You have to be careful what you say around some of them. Phil Kornblut if my favorite. He is intensley loyal and is just an all around good guy. He's the kind of guy you would spend time with away from work - one of the guys. A hard worker and well respected among all of his peers. He is also unbiased and he goes out of his way to approach what he does from an objective viewpoint in my opinion. He likes to play devil's advocate from time to time and I know that upsets some of the fans but the best gauge you can use to grade Korn is the fact that he upsets fans equally on both sides. Charlie Bennett of the Charleston Post and Courier is another of my favorites. Everybody likes Charlie and he too approaches things from an objective and professional viewpoint in my opinion. I know you want me to slam Ron Morris at The State but Ron is simply a good columnist although I think it is more than clear that he had a grudge against Lou Holtz. He seemed to always be looking for an angle against Lou and I am not sure why he did that. On the other hand he seems to like Steve Spurrier a lot so maybe that will work both in Ron's favor and in Coach Spurrier's favor in the long run if we are lucky. Rick Scoppe up in Greenville is a fair guy and I have to respect Rick because he has been following this beat for too long. It has to get stale for him at times. He can be a big sourpuss but he keeps reporting and reporting on the Gamecocks and he is a professional. I'd like to see him get a new beat somewhere for his sake, but until he does he'll keep his nose to the grindstone and do his best. I respect him for that. I like Pete Iocabelli, our AP beat writer, a lot. Great guy. I miss Christopher Thompson. He was shot behind the Clear Channel Studios this summer and I miss seeing him around. He is getting better every day. I wish everyone would say a prayer for him when they have a chance. Topher was my producer, is my producer, of my gameday show and we are going to miss him early this season in the studio. I'm looking forward to his return and I know fans of his who listen to WVOC 560 AM in the morning will be glad to have him back on the air soon.
Q: What do you think of the new instant replay rule and how do you think Coach Spurrier will use it this season?
Thomas R., Charleston, SC
A: I think it is way past time. I think that the SEC refs, over the years, have proven themselves to be the worst overall of any major conference in this country. I think there is no excuse for that. I think it is going to force SEC officials to raise the level of their game. I sometimes think that Bobby Gaston must have something on somebody down in Birmingham to have lasted as long as he has in this conference, and that if any V.P. of any company in this country had performed as poorly as Gaston's crews have performed, he would have been fired five years ago. I think that this is the only conference in America where you are at a disadvantage having your officials officiate a game on an out-of-conference opponent's home field. And I think Steve Spurrier will use instant replay like a precision surgical instrument as he does every other tool at his disposal.
Q: What position do we need to recruit the hardest this coming recruiting season?
Jason M., Summerville, SC
A: Offensive linemen. Now I say that with the understanding that you are asking what position needs the most prospects signed? It's a numbers question right? If so then I say without hesitation, offensive linemen. We also need to sign a few more corners, several more linebackers and a couple more tight ends. You can never sign too many quality defensive linemen. We need to sign a couple more wide receivers and we need to sign an outstanding quarterback in every single class. We need some of everything but as far as numbers go we need to sign six or seven offensive linemen this year.
Thanks for the questions. I apologize to those whose questions I could not get to today. Please feel free to PM me with your questions via the message boards Private Message feature.
If you are uncomfortable with the PM feature then feel free to email me with your questions at scout1(no spam)@gamecocksports.com ... and be sure to remove "(no spam)" from that address before you hit the send button.