Vols could be 7-0 ... just ask Lou

South Carolina football coach Lou Holtz is the Prince of Poormouthing. He makes every opponent sound like the greatest team in the history of college football.

Because he knew what was coming, Vol head coach Phillip Fulmer skipped Holtz' Tuesday teleconference for Tennessee media. And, because they knew what was coming, Tennessee media showed up in record numbers.

Holtz didn't disappoint. He hinted that the Volunteer team which will visit Columbia this Saturday should be 7-0 and just about unscored-upon.

''The University of Alabama did not have a single touchdown drive,'' Coach Lou said of the Tide's 34-14 thumping of Tennessee last Saturday.

How did he arrive at such a conclusion? Here's how:

''They got two touchdowns (from the Bama defense). The first touchdown ... was it a lateral or an incomplete pass? Well, the official made the decision one way (lateral) but I've seen it where he made it the other way on the same exact play.

''The other one they ran the quick screen, where the receiver (Jonathan Wade) and defender (Charlie Peprah) arrived at the same time. That's 14 points.

''Then you take the one where the guy (Brodie Croyle) was down and he laterals the ball to another guy who was down (Santonio Beard) and he runs down to the 20, then they get a late hit. That's three touchdowns.'' (Actually, Bama only got a field goal out of that possession.)

''Then they run a curl pass and the guy (Zach Fletcher) breaks a couple of tackles, gets in the open field and goes about 60. That's four of them.''

''Then he (Croyle) is scrambling, can't find anybody, throws it to the back (Beard) in the flat, who just happens to wander out there while he's scrambling. That was their entire scoring drives.'' (Although Beard's reception covered 29 yards, it still left Bama 42 yards from the end zone.)

Warming to the task, Holtz continued to spew hyperbole. He called the Vols' offensive line ''as good as they've ever had,'' adding that center Scott Wells is ''outstanding'' and that Jason Witten is ''a great tight end.'' Coach Lou labeled Casey Clausen ''the best quarterback in the conference,'' subsequently adding: ''I honestly believe after watching that film that they wouldn't have lost to Georgia if they'd had Casey Clausen at quarterback.''

As for Tennessee's 30-13 loss to Florida, Holtz explained it away thusly:

''That was in a driving downpour. They let Florida get ahead 24-0, then came back the second half and almost pulled the thing out.''

Finally, asked if any aspect of his team has disappointed him, Holtz noted that ''I thought we'd play a little bit better on defense, particularly on third down. Teams are converting 44.6 percent of their third-down conversions, whereas the University of Tennessee is 29 percent on third-down defense.''

Actually, Carolina opponents are converting 38.6 percent of their third-down opportunities, while Tennessee opponents are converting 36.1 percent.

Nice try, Lou.

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