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Aug. 20, 2002

Columbia, SC –

* USC defensive coordinator Charlie Strong met with the media following Tuesday morning’s preseason football practice. Noting that Tuesday was the last day of two-a-day practices, Coach Strong said: “I think the coaches are just as glad to get out of two-a-days as the players are.”

* In assessing the Gamecock defense, Coach Strong said he feels good about the front three — senior Langston Moore, senior Dennis Quinn, and sophomore George Gause. He also likes the play of the linebackers (Jermaine Lemon, Jeremiah Garrison, Lance Laury) and the spurs (Rashad Faison and Jonathan Martin). Two of the three members of the secondary are set, with Deandre’ Eiland at free safety and Dunta Robinson at one cornerback. The other cornerback spot will likely be filled by junior college transfer Taqiy Muhammad for the season opener against New Mexico State (Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium). “I’d like to be a little more solidified at the other cornerback position,” said Coach Strong. “Taqiy would have a slight edge there now. Rachiem Monroe has had a good camp. He’s not very big but if you watch him, he’s always around the football. Corey Peoples has also looked pretty good as has the freshman, Tremaine Tyler.”

* Coach Strong said that linebacker Lance Laury has been one of the biggest surprises on defense since this past spring. He also said that the defense has begun to develop some depth, with Shaun Smith, Jason Capers and Preston Thorne up front, and Ricardo Hurley, Orus Lambert and Lenny Williams at linebacker.

* Coach Strong said that three of the new players — linebacker Ricardo Hurley and defensive linemen Moe Thompson and Randy Jackson — have come on and made a strong bid for playing time. “Thompson and Hurley are two very talented freshmen,” said Coach Strong. “We put Moe Thompson on the kickoff team during Sunday’s scrimmage and he made some plays. He is very fluid and moves extremely well. All three are very physical players who like to hit.”

* When asked to compare last year’s defense with this year’s unit, Coach Strong said: “You felt at ease last year because of all the seniors we had. We lost some really good players on defense. But, I like what we have coming back and I like the new players we brought in. I’m excited about seeing them play next week. We’ll have at least three guys in the lineup (Laury, Muhammad and Robinson) who have never started a college game, so that can be kind of scary, but I think they’ll do fine. This group knows we’ve been pretty good on defense the past couple of years and they don’t want to be the ones to live that reputation down.”

* Update on the injuries: quarterbacks Dondrial Pinkins (broken ankle) and Bennett Swygert (knee) are sidelined; offensive lineman Chad Walker (foot strain) is out; running back Kenny Irons (knee sprain) is out; offensive lineman Justin McGuire (knee) is out; spur Jamacia Jackson (broken hand) is out; wide receiver Andrea Gause (bruised jaw) is limited.


? the first 15 minutes of Wednesday’s practice is open for filming (beginning at 1:15 p.m.). Head coach Lou Holtz will be available in the press room behind the lobby of the football building after practice (approximately 3:20 p.m.).

? a reminder that the Coach Lou Holtz radio call-in show begins its season run Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. across the Gamecock Radio Network (flagship station is WTCB-FM, 106.7 in Columbia).