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March 19, 2003

Columbia, S.C. – Head coach Lou Holtz addressed the media on Wednesday ahead of the opening of spring practice on Friday, March 21. The Gamecocks will practice 15 times over 29 days, including the April 12 spring game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Only the spring game will be open to the public.

Holtz also announced that running back Thez Robinson has been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.

(on the opening of spring practice)
“I am as anxious to start spring practice as I have ever been. I have never looked forward to spring as much as I have this year. Part of the enthusiasm is based on getting over how we ended last season and putting that behind us. We have a lot to get done in a short time.”

(on the expectations for spring practice)
“Our purpose for spring is to work on fundamentals, to improve every football player, to evaluate our players and to put together a starting team. We have more athletes on the team than we did last year without a doubt. I am not sure how many of those athletes are good football players.”

(on the special teams)
“We must find good return men who can handle the ball and get yardage. Finding a punter will be critical also. We are still looking at candidates for that position. We need to gain more consistency with field goal attempts as well.”

(on the quarterbacks)
“Mike Rathe has made a nice adjustment to school. I expect him to be an intelligent quarterback, make good decisions and be accurate. Dondrial Pinkins should have an advantage having been in the program and by knowing what is going on. We will see what and how much Bennett Swygert can do. He will be able to participate in all drills except for scrimmage action.”

(on the offense)
“Finding a running back and wide receivers is critical. We are moving Taqiy Muhammad to wide receiver and Troy Williamson gives us big-play possibilities there. We are looking at Aryhel Freeman and Andrea Gause at receiver also. On the offensive line, Travelle Wharton had a tremendous off-season program. He is a great captain. He will graduate on time and has been working very hard. At tight end, Hart Turner and Andy Boyd have come on.”

(on the defense)
“Improving our pass rush, our third down defense, our coverage and our run defense are all critical. Last year we could not stop the run when we needed to. Ricardo Hurley and Lance Laury have had great winter sessions, both academically and with workouts. Darrell Shopshire has been a pleasant surprise this off-season. At the safety position, Rodriques Wilson had a great winter in all areas and has spent considerable time studying film.”

(on having more input in coaching the defense)
“I am looking forward to being more ‘hands-on’, especially with the secondary. I coached the secondary throughout my career but now have to consider the time restraints that I have as a head coach.”