Summers boosts Cocks' attack

The quarterback problem might not be resolved, but South Carolina appears to have found its future at running back.

During a week in which Gamecock's head coach Lou Holtz was desperately trying to determine who would emerge as the leader of his offense, a freshman running back stepped up with an eye-catching performance to help sooth the pain of uncertainty at quarterback.

Freshman Demetris Summers, who had rushed for just 78 yards in three previous games, exploded for 161 yards in South CarolinaÌs 42-10 victory over Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday.

That's hardly enough to frighten the Tennessee Vols, fresh off a win at Florida, as they prepare for Saturday's meeting between the two Southeastern Conference East Division foes. But for South Carolina, it is a step in the right direction towards developing a competent offensive attack.

Summers scored on a 21-yard run on the Gamecock's first series. He later ran 54 yards for a touchdown -- the team's longest rushing touchdown since Derek Watson's 58-yarder against Kentucky in 2000. His 5-yard scoring run near the end of the game allowed him to become the first Gamecock to score three touchdowns in a game since Zola Davis turned the trick in a win over Kent in 1995.

''Demetris had a tremendous game,'' Holtz said. ''He has good peripheral vision, he has good eyes. He played exceptionally well. He took another big step this week. For a freshman, he is coming on. He is a wonderful young man. He is pleasant and easy to coach.''

Summers, in typical freshman fashion, complimented everyone but himself for the brilliant performance.

''I just did what I had to do to get yardage,'' he said. ÏThe offensive line did a good job of blocking. I waited patiently for the holes to open up and then just went with it. We will practice hard this week and try to continue this against Tennessee.''

Tight end Hart Turner feels Summers' breakout game will add a new dimension to the South Carolina offense.

''It's good to see that he can break runs like that. He's special,'' he said.

South Carolina entered the game with a great deal of uncertainty about who would emerge as the No. 1 quarterback. Dondrial Pinkins, the starter in the first three games, had to regain Holtz's confidence after a poor outing in a 31-7 loss to Georgia.

After closer scrutiny from Holtz and offensive coordinator Skip Holtz in last week's practices, Pinkins was able to retain his starting job over Bennett Swygert and Blake Mitchell.

Skip Holtz said before the game that he felt Pinkins gives the Gamecocks the best chance to win, despite his so-so performance early in the season. Through four games, he is 37-for-122 passing for 665 yards. He has thrown four interceptions and two touchdowns.

''All three quarterbacks did some good things in practice this week,'' Holtz said. ''But, I can't honestly look at it and say that the other two give us a better chance to win at the present time.''

Saturday's effort was a solid one for Pinkins, who completed 13-of-19 passes for 202 yards.

''We were all disappointed in how we performed against Georgia,'' he said. ''I know I needed to come out this week and learn from my mistakes and work to become a better quarterback. All of the quarterbacks were pulling for one another this week during practice. We are a family, and when things get tough, your family pulls together.''

Lou Holtz feels Pinkins is becoming a better quarterback. He liked his decision-making in Saturday's game, and knows his quarterback cannot afford mental errors at Tennessee.

''Our problems were not all at quarterback,'' Holtz said. ''He needed some help. Other than one bad decision, he had a good game.''

The overall offensive play seemed to improve, said receiver Taqiy Muhammad.

''We went out and did whatever Skip called for,'' he said. ''We did a good job of executing. The tempo was much better and we cut down on the penalties. Our tempo was much more upbeat. We were into it and we were able to play some younger players as well. We moved the ball, moved the chains.''

The emergence of Summers, if he is able to sustain the kind of effort he produced Saturday, could relieve some of the pressure placed on Pinkins. ''I was pleased with the offensive line and the way we moved the ball,'' Lou Holtz said. ''We were able to move the ball effectively and that makes things easier for the quarterback.''

Offensive lineman Na'Shan Goddard agrees that improvement up front will also improve Pinkins' play.

''We know we have to protect him better,'' Goddard said. ''The line hasnÌt done a good job of helping him this whole year. It takes a lot of pressure off of Dondrial when we all work together.''

Defensively, the Gamecocks still must make strides if they are to compete with Tennessee.

While they have allowed just 13 points per game, the strong performances came against Louisiana-Lafayette, Virginia and UAB. Georgia's offense thrived against the Gamecocks.

''We still have to take a good look at the depth chart,'' Lou Holtz said. ''One of the problems we have right now is that you have to be strong up the middle. There is too much instability in the defensive line. It is the same situation at linebacker because of injuries.''

A confident group of Vols will await the Gamecocks at Neyland Stadium. The victory at The Swamp caught the attention of Holtz.

''I know how hard it is to play in Gainesville,'' he said. ''I just want to get out with a win. We've got to improve or we can't play a team like Tennessee. Tennessee just plays well. They are tough, physical on both sides of the ball.''


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