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Aug. 28, 2002

Columbia, SC –

* With the season opener less than three days away, the 22nd-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks went through a two-hour practice session Wednesday in shorts and shoulder pads. USC kicks off the 2002 campaign this Saturday night at 7:00 against New Mexico State at Williams-Brice Stadium. The game is a sellout and a crowd in excess of 83,000 is expected.

* Head coach Lou Holtz said Wednesday that most of the physical work is over for this week’s lid-lifter. He is as curious as any to see how the Gamecocks play under the lights this Saturday. “We do some good things but then again we do some things poorly,” said Holtz. “We’ll drop a pass or have a foolish penalty. We’ve got to eliminate some of the careless mistakes that we make.”

* Freshman quarterback Bennett Swygert, who injured his left knee in a scrimmage on Aug. 18, will have surgery this Saturday at Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia. It is the second time that Swygert has suffered ligament damage in that knee. He had surgery at the end of his senior season at Summerville (S.C.) High School, which caused him to have to enroll at USC a semester late. He went through spring practice and was battling for a backup spot at quarterback when he hurt his knee. USC’s medical staff and Swygert’s family let the swelling go down the past 10 days before making the decision to operate on Wednesday. It is uncertain when he could return to full activity, but he is definitely out for the 2002 season.

* Other injury updates: defensive back Corey Peoples has a high ankle sprain and is out for Saturday; quarterback Aryhel Freeman had his left knee scoped and is out indefinitely; defensive back Isaac Stackhouse is out with a back bruise; quarterback Dondrial Pinkins is progressing nicely from his fractured ankle and may start conditioning as early as this Monday.

* Coach Holtz said he is uncertain on how some of the younger players will perform in their first collegiate action. “I’m looking forward to seeing how Daccus Turman, Ricardo Hurley, Troy Williamson, Andre Hemphill and Corey Taylor are going to play,” said Holtz. “I’m not even sure Corey Taylor (USC track standout and current wide receiver) has gone to any of the games since he’s been here. It should be interesting.”

* Coach Holtz said his elbow was feeling somewhat better following his surgery this past Sunday. He still is wearing a soft cast and brace on his right arm. “The doctors said they found a foreign body in the tissue they removed,” said Holtz. “How a foreign body ever got in there is beyond me.” When asked if his golf game would improve following the surgery, Holtz quipped: “They asked if I was going to play good golf after my elbow was worked on and I said I doubt it because I wasn’t able to play good golf before.” This past Sunday, Holtz had an inflamed bursa removed from his right elbow. Doctors say the inflammation could have been caused from the extraordinary number of autographs the coach signs each week (estimated at 1,000).