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March 25, 2003

USC SHOWS SUPPORT FOR U.S. TROOPS IN THE PERSIAN GULF: USC football players signed a Gamecocks flag to send to the United States Air Force squadron from South Carolina’s McEntire Air National Guard Station currently stationed in the Persian Gulf.

“As I’ve said so many times, when I was over there two years ago (on USO Tour of Southwest Asia), I was so impressed with the efforts,talents and abilities of our military people,” said head coach Lou Holtz. “A young person by the name of Joey Szoke who was deployed, asked his mother if she could send him something that had a Gamecock on it, because he said there were a lot of Gamecock people over there. We decided that a flag would be appropriate. Our coaches and players signed it, some with their own personal message. They said they were going to put the flag on their tank. I also sent them a football with a note that said ‘if you find anyone in Iraq who can kick this, please let me know … and we’ll see you when you get back.””

“I feel like they (the U.S. military) need our support, just like we need support when we play football,” said quarterback Dondrial Pinkins. “They are fighting for our freedom and it’s the least we can do to provide some support.”

“The soldiers in Iraq are fighting for the freedom that we enjoy now and that we hope to enjoy in the future,” said tight end Hart Turner. “It’s because of their courage that we are able to live safely in this country. The players on this team want them to know that we are behind them and look forward to their safe return.”

COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: 158 days until the season-opener at Williams-Brice Stadium, Sat., Aug. 30 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette.

GOING CAMPING: USC conducted its second practice in pads after a day off on Monday. The two-hour late-afternoon session was conducted under sunny skies and warm temperatures approaching 80 degrees at the practice fields west of Williams-Brice Stadium.

QUOTING ASSISTANT HEAD COACH SKIP HOLTZ: Assistant head coach Skip Holtz spoke to the media following today’s practice.

(on the today’s practice) – “Today was a big teaching and correction day. It was a competitive practice. We have a lot of people fighting for jobs and their minds are in it and they are ready to go.”

(on the offensive line) – “We are still shifting guys around on the offensive line. It may be the most open position group in terms of starting positions available this spring. We will not establish a depth chart until after the first scrimmage. For now we are rolling guys into the first and second groups and into different positions.”

(on the position battles for starting jobs) – “Our spring scrimmage will do a lot to determine the depth chart. It will be most important for the guys who are trying to establish themselves and have not played much. We have seen the guys who have played and what they can do so reps are not as important for them early in the spring. As we go further into the spring, it will be important for all of them as we try to put our offense together.”

(on the quarterbacks) – “It will be fall before we know how good Mike Rathe has a grasp of our offense. We expect him to compete for the starting job in the fall. Dondrial Pinkins has been stepping it up this spring by showing a good grasp of the offense and throwing the ball well. It is a different attitude and mindset when you enter camp and the job is yours.”

INJURY NOTES: Offensive lineman Chris White remains out and has not been cleared from a neck injury suffered last season. Wide Receiver D’von Hill is out with a hamstring. Tight end Brian Brownlee has a hip-flexor and its extent is unknown.

COACHES CLINIC: USC hosts its annual coaches clinic beginning Thursday night and continuing through Saturday.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE: The Gamecocks will take two days off from the practice field before resuming workouts on Friday and beginning a stretch of sessions on three consecutive days.

DID YOU KNOW?: South Carolina’s 2003 schedule features eight teams that reached bowl games following the 2002 season. The teams combined for a 3-5 postseason record with wins by Virginia, Georgia and Mississippi.