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April 8, 2003

  • South Carolina will look to get back on the winning track in 2003. Following the most successful two-year run in school history (17 victories over the 2000 and 2001 seasons), the Gamecocks slipped to 5-7 in 2002, dropping their last five games in a row. USC will look to resume its winning ways when it opens the 2003 season on Aug. 30 at home against Louisiana-Lafayette. The Gamecocks play eight home games at Williams-Brice Stadium, the most home contests for Carolina since the 1982 season.
  • The Gamecocks return 32 lettermen (14 offense/16 defense/2 specialists) from last year’s squad. Ten starters are back, including three on offense, six on defense and one specialist.
  • Carolina will employ a new look on defense this fall. The Gamecocks will play more of a four-man front, after having relied primarily on a 3-3-5 alignment the past three seasons. Chris Cosh takes over the defensive coordinator position, with the departure of Charlie Strong to the University of Florida. Cosh has been on the Gamecock staff for the past four seasons and also oversees the linebackers. The Gamecock defensive staff visited during the off-season with Monte Kiffin, the defensive architect of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl championship team. Coach Lou Holtz also visited with Pete Carroll, head coach at the University of Southern California, and exchanged defensive ideas. Both Kiffin and Carroll coached for Holtz at Arkansas.
  • With the new defensive look, there has been a re-shifting of coaching responsibilities among the staff. As mentioned above, Chris Cosh is the new defensive coordinator; Dave Roberts moves from defense over to offense where he will coach the running backs; Paul Lounsberry moves from the offensive line to the defensive tackles; and Jappy Oliver is the new defensive ends coach. Additionally, Todd Fitch will move from running backs to quarterbacks and Dave DeGuglielmo will work with the entire offensive line, instead of just the tackles. Charlie Williams, formerly of the Tampa Bay Bucs, is the new wide receivers coach.
  • Speaking of defense, there will be some big shoes to fill on that side of the football. Langston Moore, the team’s MVP at nose tackle is gone, as is the top two leading tacklers from 2002 – spurs Jonathan Martin and Rashad Faison. Jermaine Lemon, a linebacker who started nine games, is also gone, as is defensive end Dennis Quinn, who started seven games.
  • Carolina will be looking for a new punter in 2003. Tyeler Dean, who held down that position for three seasons, has graduated. Dean averaged 42.4 yards per punt a year ago. Likely candidates to fill that post include Josh Brown and Joey Bowers.
  • The Gamecock offense will work towards achieving more consistent productivity this spring. Carolina averaged just 319 yards and 18.8 points per game in 2002. The offensive line will feature four new faces, while the quarterback position will receive ample attention during the spring. Dondrial Pinkins started the final two games of the 2002 season at quarterback and enters the spring as the leading candidate to assume the starting position. Bennett Swygert is a redshirt freshman who is coming off of reconstructive knee surgery from last summer – the second such surgery he has had over the past two years – and will also receive a close look.
  • Carolina looks to become more effective in both its passing and running games. Pinkins threw for 431 yards and two touchdowns in limited action last season. Troy Williamson, who was a Freshman All-America selection a year ago, caught a team-leading four touchdown passes and averaged nearly 29 yards per reception. Kenny Irons (201 yards), Daccus Turman (179 yards, two touchdowns), and redshirt freshman Regis Edgerson are the leading candidates at running back.
  • USC placekicker Daniel Weaver is back for his senior season, after having an inconsistent junior campaign. Weaver, whose 42-yard field clinched the 2002 Outback Bowl victory over Ohio State, connected on just 10 of 16 field goals last season, and was just 4-10 outside of 30 yards.
  • Spring practice begins on March 21, with the annual Spring Game set for April 12. Due to schedul-ing reasons, the Gamecocks will also practice on April 15 and 17 before concluding spring practice.

Offensive Starters Returning (2)

Travelle Wharton, OT, Sr. – All-America candidate … Three-year starter who should be one of the top offensive tackles in the country … Named Freshman All-America in 2000 … Received a Winner’s Certificate in 2000, 2001 and 2002 … Named a team captain for the 2003 season.

Hart Turner, TE, Sr. – Much-improved tight end who could be a sleeper this season for the Gamecock offense … Started nine of the 12 games in 2002 … Had four catches for 35 yards and one touchdown – a 26-yard scoring reception vs. Mississippi State.

Defensive Starters Returning (6)

George Gause, DE, Jr. – All-SEC candidate … Started 11 of the 12 games in 2002 at either linebacker or defensive end … Should benefit from the move to a four-man front … Totaled 55 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss and a team-leading four quarterback sacks … His three forced fumbles led the team and was among the SEC leaders … 2001 SEC All-Freshman selection.

Moe Thompson, DE, So. – All-SEC candidate – Freshman All-America pick in 2002 … Also chosen to the SEC All-Freshman squad … Started the last 11 games of the season at defensive end … Had 52 total tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss … Also had two QB sacks, one interception, three pass break ups and recovered two fumbles.

Lance Laury, LB, So. – All-SEC candidate … 2002 Freshman All-America and SEC All-Freshman choice … Team’s third leading tackler with 90 total hits despite missing two games with a knee injury … Had four tackles for loss, two pass break ups and three QB pressures … Had a career-high 17 tackles vs. Virginia.

Jeremiah Garrison, LB, Sr. – All-SEC candidate … Named a team captain for 2003 … Team’s fourth leading tackler in 2002 with 88 total hits … Also had six tackles for loss, three QB sacks, two QB pressures, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.

Dunta Robinson, CB, Sr. – All-SEC candidate … Named a team captain for the 2003 season … Led team with four interceptions in 2002 … Finished the year with 49 total tackles and a team-high 10 pass break ups.

Deandre’ Eiland, CB, Sr. – All-SEC candidate … Played free safety for most of his career, but is expected to move to cornerback in the new defensive alignment, a position he played the final two games of the 2002 season … Finished last year with 70 total tackles … Returned an interception 69 yards for a touchdown vs. Temple … Has seven career interceptions.

Specialist Starters Returning (1)

Daniel Weaver, PK, Sr. – Looks to rebound from an up and down junior season … In 2002, he was 10-16 on field goals, but just four of 10 outside 30 yards … Enters his senior year having made 25 of 35 field goals and 63 of 69 career extra points … His 42-yard field goal as time expired lifted USC to a victory over Ohio State in the 2002 Outback Bowl.

Other Players to Watch

Jonathan Alston, OL, Jr. – With four starters along the offensive line departing from last year’s club, he should have the opportunity to step up and contend for a starting role … Primarily played tackle in 2002.

Jeff Barnes, OL, Sr. – Veteran offensive lineman who can play several positions … Has been steady as a utility performer, however, with four starters lost from last year’s team, his ability to contend for a starting berth could be a key in the overall development of the line … Had off-season wrist surgery, but is expected to be ready for spring practice.

Andy Boyd, TE, So. – Young tight end prospect who could be a surprise in the spring … Has worked hard to improve his strength and his weight is up to 255 pounds.

Jason Capers, DE, Jr. – With the move to a new defensive look, expect to see more of him on the field.

Ted Crawford, CB, Sr. – Will be counted on to provide leadership and depth in the secondary … Had three starts at cornerback in 2002.

Regis Edgerson, FB, Fr. – Was redshirted in 2002, but with the departure of Andrew Pinnock, he will be in the thick of the battle for playing time at fullback.

Andrea Gause, WR, Jr. – Has been slowed with a knee injury the past year, but he has exceptional talent that could allow him to be a real contributor on offense.

Na’shan Goddard, OL, So. – Freshman All-America pick in 2002, he can play both center and guard … Candidate for a starting role along the offensive front.

Mikal Goodman, WR, Sr. – Fifth-year player who has good hands and could be a contributor as a possession receiver.

Gonzie Gray, RB, Jr. – Started to come on towards the end of last season … Has deceptive speed.

Jermaine Harris, FS, Jr. – Was redshirted in 2002 … Could contend for starting job at free safety.

Ricardo Hurley, LB, So. – Talented young prospect who has the ability to emerge as one of the top linebackers in the SEC by season’s end.

Kenny Irons, RB, So. – Displayed flashes of talent in 2002 … Has decent speed and elusiveness to go along with strength.

Jamacia Jackson, S, Jr. – Good-looking athlete who appears to be poised to have a break-out season in 2003.

Randy Jackson, DT, Sr. – Will vie for starting position at defensive tackle … Underwent ankle surgery in the off-season but is expected to be available for spring drills.

Jabari Levey, OL, So. – The sky could be the limit for this youngster … Expect him to contend for starting role somewhere along the offensive front.

Taqiy Muhammad, WR, Sr. – As a first-year player in 2002, he started five games at cornerback … Has been moved to receiver for spring practice, where coaches hope to take advantage of his athleticism.

Dondrial Pinkins, QB, Jr. – Started the final two games of the season (Florida, Clemson) at quarterback and enters spring drills as the #1 quarterback.

Darrell Shropshire, DL, Jr. – Junior college transfer who was a JC All-America in 2002 … Will be given strong look during spring camp … Underwent shoulder surgery during the off-season but is expected to be ready for spring practice.

Bennett Swygert, QB, Fr. – Was contending for playing time at quarterback during 2002 preseason camp when he went down with a season-ending knee injury – the second time in two years he had injured the same knee … Is expected to be cleared for spring practice and will be given a close look.

Rod Thomas, LB, Sr. – Missed last season with an ankle injury … Is a veteran player who looks to go out strong his senior year.

Preston Thorne, DT, Jr. – Has been a steady backup the past two seasons but now looks to step his game up and assume more of a role.

Daccus Turman, RB, So. – Was impressive as a true freshman a year ago … Has strength and the ability to hit the hole … Scored three touchdowns in 2002.

Troy Williamson, WR, So. – Freshman All-America and SEC All-Freshman selection in 2002 … Had a team-best four touchdown receptions last season … Averaged 29 yards per reception (17 catches for 491 yards) … Had a 60-yard TD reception vs. LSU and a season-best 70-yard TD catch vs. Clemson

Rodriques Wilson, S, Jr. – Talented athlete who will contend for starting berth at safety … Has also played quarterback and receiver during his career.