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Aug. 29, 2002

Columbia, SC –

* With kickoff for the season opener just 48 hours away, South Carolina head football coach Lou Holtz said Thursday that he believes the 22nd-ranked Gamecocks are ready to play. “I really believe the players are ready and I feel good about our preparation,” said Holtz, who begins his 31st season as a head coach and fourth season at Carolina. “I’m anxious to see us play and to see how we perform.” USC hosts New Mexico State in a non-conference game this Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. Start time is 7 p.m. The game is sold out and there is no live television.

* Coach Holtz said running backs Andrew Pinnock and Ryan Brewer have both had good weeks of preparation. Pinnock had missed some practice time last week with a bruised shoulder. Brewer is coming off of corrective ankle surgery. Pinnock is expected to get the starting nod at fullback, although freshman Daccus Turman should also play. “Daccus made some freshman mistakes this week, but he will play. Andrew has come back from his shoulder and looks ready to go.”

* When asked if senior quarterback Corey Jenkins, who will be making his first start in a Gamecock uniform Saturday evening appeared nervous this week, Holtz quipped: “Corey reminds me of a blackjack dealer,” said Holtz. “He doesn’t show you much, he keeps his cool and he follows the rules. Obviously, his performance will be key for us. He’s a big question mark right now, but I have faith in what he can do.”

* Holtz also said that the wide receivers had come on the past week during practice. “James Adkisson and Matthew Thomas have both had good weeks,” said Holtz. “I think we’ll be fine there.”

* On Friday of home games, Coach Holtz said he historically got away and played nine holes of golf in the morning, but due to his recent elbow surgery, that was not going to happen any time soon. He has his “Lunch with Lou” Friday (completely sold out), said he would meet with some coaches and staff, answer correspondence, have a team meeting at 4 p.m., go to the motel with the team, have chapel at 9:30 p.m. and then call it a night shortly after that.

* Speaking to the uncertainty of a season opening game, Coach Holtz said: “Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin head coach) called me today and commented that so many mistakes are made in the first game that it can drive you crazy (the Badgers escaped with a narrow win over Fresno State in their opener a week ago),” said Holtz. “I’ve probably had to talk less to this football team about motivation and playing hard than any team I’ve coached. I know they are going to make mistakes, but I also know they will be focused and play hard. It should be a fun team to watch.”

* Coach Holtz also said that backup quarterback Dondrial Pinkins, who fractured his ankle in a scrimmage nearly two weeks ago, has been walking around some and appears to be making good progress.