Sept. 7, 2004
The South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0/1-0) begin the home portion of their 2004 football schedule by hosting the nationally ranked Georgia Bulldogs (#3 AP/#4 ESPN/USA Today) (1-0/0-0) this Saturday, Sept. 11 at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff for this nationally televised contest (ESPN) will be shortly after 5:30 p.m. Announcers for the game will be Dave Barnett (play-by-play), Bill Curry (color analyst) and Alex Flanagan (sideline reporter).
A QUICK LOOK
For the first time since 1995, South Carolina is opening its season with two consecutive Southeastern Conference games. From 1992-95, the Gamecocks began each season by playing SEC opponents Georgia and Arkansas in back-to-back games. Carolina opened the 2004 campaign Sept. 4 in Nashville, defeating the Vanderbilt Commodores 31-6. Georgia kicked off its season last Saturday with a 48-28 victory over Georgia Southern in Athens.
South Carolina and Georgia meet for the 57th time this Saturday, with UGA holding a 41-13-2 lead in the series. In Columbia, UGA is 16-7-2 vs. the Gamecocks. Georgia has won the last two games vs. USC — 31-7 in 2003 and 13-7 in 2002. USC’s last victory came in 2001 — a 14-9 triumph in Athens. This series dates back to 1894. USC has played Georgia more than any other opponent in the SEC. USC’s last victory over the Bulldogs in Columbia came in 2000 (21-10). USC has played UGA the second most times of any opponent it has faced in the history of its football program. The Gamecocks have played Clemson 101 times and met Wake Forest 56 times, the same number of games they have played against UGA.
THE LAST TWO MEETINGS
10/13/03, Athens, Ga., #8 UGA 31, #25 USC 7… Fresh off of a convincing 31-7 victory over #15 Virginia, South Carolina headed to Athens ranked 25th in the Associated Press media poll. The Gamecocks were also riding a two-game winning streak vs. the Bulldogs. Buoyed by strong defensive play that produced three turnovers and two touchdown passes from David Greene to Reggie Brown, #8 Georgia opened the SEC season with a 31-7 whipping over USC in Athens. Georgia took a 10-0 first quarter lead and extended the margin to 17-0 at halftime. That lead grew to 24-0 by the end of the third quarter. USC got on the scoreboard with 52 seconds left in the game when Demetris Summers took a screen pass from Bennett Swygert and rambled 37 yards for the score. UGA capped the scoring on the ensuing kickoff when USC’s on-sides kickoff attempt was returned 44 yards for a touchdown by Damien Gary. The total offense stats were fairly equal, with UGA outgaining the Gamecocks 378-350. However, the Gamecocks threw three interceptions that Georgia capitalized on. Dondrial Pinkins was just 12-30-2 for 116 yards on the afternoon. Daccus Turman led USC in rushing with 46 yards on 12 carries. 9/14/02, Columbia, S.C., #9 Georgia 13, USC 7… USC and Georgia battled it out for 60 minutes before the Bulldogs prevailed 13-7 before 84,227 fans — the fourth largest crowd in Williams-Brice Stadium history. Georgia clung to a 3-0 lead through three quarters and the action picked up in the game’s final period. The first big play for either team came at 14:44 in the final quarter when the Gamecocks started on their own four-yard-line. Georgia defensive end David Pollack pressured USC quarterback Corey Jenkins and intercepted his pass attempt in the end zone, literally taking the ball right out of his right arm as he prepared to cock and throw. That play gave UGA a 10-0 lead. USC struck back when Jenkins hit Ryan Brewer on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 12:23 remaining. Georgia’s Billy Bennett kicked a 25-yard field goal at the 3:19 mark, lifting the ‘Dawgs to a 13-7 lead. On their next drive, the Gamecocks marched down the field to their one-yard line. With 12 seconds remaining, Jenkins pitched the ball right to fullback Andrew Pinnock who fumbled and it was recovered by Georgia. The Gamecocks had dropped a heartbreaker, 13-7. USC won the statistical battle (371-297 in total offense), as Jenkins completed 14 of 24 passes for 180 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries. Musa Smith paced UGA with 103 yards on the ground while David Greene completed 11 of 19 passes for 169 yards. Fred Gibson led Georgia in receiving with six catches for 116 yards.
A CLOSER LOOK
South Carolina returns 16 starters (nine offense/six defense/one specialist). Georgia returns 20 starters (10 offense/7 defense/3 specialist) … USC is looking to snap a two-game losing streak vs. UGA. Georgia has won five of the last seven meetings … USC head coach Lou Holtz is 2-5 lifetime vs. Georgia. He squared off twice against UGA while he was head coach at North Carolina State, losing 28-22 in Athens in 1972 and 31-12 the following season in Athens. UGA defeated USC 24-9 in Holtz’s first season at Carolina (1999), before the Gamecocks won the next two meetings in 2000 and 2001 … Now in his 33rd season as a collegiate head coach, Lou Holtz ranks third among active head coaches and eighth all-time with 244 career victories. His 244 career wins trail only Penn State’s Joe Paterno and Florida State’s Bobby Bowden among active coaches. Coach Holtz is the only coach in the history of college football to lead six different programs (William & Mary, North Carolina State, Arkansas, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina) to post-season bowl games (all by the second season) and is likewise the only coach in history to have four different programs (NC State, Arkansas, Notre Dame and South Carolina) finish the season ranked in the top 20 … Carolina features 10 players on its roster from the state of Georgia: C John Strickland (Bainbridge); QB Dondrial Pinkins (Camilla); TE David Laggis (Conyers); OL Chris Tucker (Decatur); QB Blake Mitchell (LaGrange); S Jermaine Harris (Peachtree City); WR Matthew Thomas (Pearson); FB Antonio Lamar (Snellville); DE Charles Silas (Statesboro); and RB Daccus Turman (Washington) … Georgia lists two players from the state of South Carolina — LB Marcus Howard (Huger), and CB Tim Jennings (Orangeburg) … Mark Richt is in his fourth season as the Bulldogs’ head coach coach. Richt, who has led UGA to consecutive SEC Eastern Division titles, has compiled a 33-8 record with Georgia. Richt is 2-1 vs. the Gamecocks. Richt came to Athens after serving as the highly successful quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Florida State under Bobby Bowden … Two of Georgia’s assistants were formerly at South Carolina. UGA assistant head coach and wide receivers coach John Eason was an assistant at USC from 1994-97, where he also tutored the wide receivers and served as offensive coordinator. UGA defensive ends coach Jon Fabris worked for Coach Lou Holtz at USC in 1999 as special teams and defensive ends coach.
CAROLINA CLOSE UP
In each of the past two seasons, the Gamecocks have come up one victory short in their attempt to become bowl eligible. Carolina had the best two-year run in school history from 2000-01, posting 8-4 and 9-3 records and winning consecutive Outback Bowl championships against Ohio State … The Gamecocks are likely to start five seniors on offense and six seniors on defense … Dondrial Pinkins is USC’s starting quarterback. The fifth-year senior threw for 2,127 yards a year ago – the ninth best single-season total in school history. For his career, Pinkins has thrown for 2,747 yards (11th all-time) with 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, while completing .502 percent of his passes … Center John Strickland is on the pre-season watch list for the Rimington Award … USC’s starting offense line averages 310 pounds across the front … … Season ticket sales for Carolina home games are once again on a steady pace. The Gamecocks are expected to sell nearly 60,000 season tickets in 2004 … A record $11.9 million was raised by the Gamecock Club, USC’s athletic fund-raising arm, last year … The Gamecock football team had its best academic semester ever, posting a 2.592 grade point average last spring … Receivers Troy Williamson and Matthew Thomas own the two longest touchdown receptions in USC history. Williamson had a school-record 99-yard catch and run vs. Virginia last season. Thomas was on the receiving end of a 98-yard touchdown bomb also last season. Both touchdown passes were thrown by Dondrial Pinkins … Syvelle Newton, USC’s back-up quarterback, played wide receiver in 2003 and had 22 receptions for 277 yards. Newton was an all-state quarterback in high school at Marlboro County (S.C.) … USC returns its top four rushers from a year ago. Daccus Turman led the way with 646 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns. Demetris Summers tallied 638 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and three touchdowns and Pinkins picked up 254 yards and five TDs. Cory Boyd rushed for 232 yards and three scores … Four of the five offensive line starters from last season return. Only Travelle Wharton, the all-star left tackle who was a third-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers, is gone. Jabari Levey (LT), John Strickland (C), Jonathan Alston (RG) and Na’Shan Goddard (RT) all started at least seven games a year ago … Tight end Brian Brownlee has three touchdown receptions during his career — two in last year’s season finale vs. Clemson and one in this year’s opener vs. Vanderbilt … Moe Thompson and George Gause are regarded to be among the top pair of defensive ends in the SEC. Thompson was a pre-season All-SEC selection. The two combined for 10 quarterback sacks and nine tackles for loss last season … Jason Capers has proven to be a versatile defender for the Gamecocks. Capers can play both the tackle and end positions in USC’s four-man front … Darrell Shropshire had four tackles for loss last year as a junior college transfer and started all 12 games at tackle … Linebacker Ricardo Hurley appears to be healthy this season. The junior was hobbled with an ankle injury throughout much of the 2003 campaign. Two seniors — Marcus Lawrence and Rodriques Wilson — are slated to start at the other linebacker slots. Wilson started four games at safety last season, but was moved to outside linebacker during spring drills … The Gamecocks will feature some new faces in the secondary this fall. Gone is cornerback Dunta Robinson, the #1 draft pick of the Houston Texans, but there seem to be four solid performers who are up to the task. Tremaine Tyler and Fred Bennett are listed as the starters, backed up by Johnathan Joseph and Taqiy Muhammad … A true freshman, Ko Simpson, is expected to start at free safety. Simpson signed with Carolina in 2003, but did not enroll until last spring semester. He did go through spring practice. Another true freshman, Chris Hampton, is listed as his back-up. Two seniors are battling for the starting berth at strong safety — Jamacia Jackson and Jermaine Harris. Both had interceptions in the opening win over Vanderbilt. Jackson’s 98-yard interception return for a touchdown ranks as the 4th longest interception return in USC history. It is also the longest interception return since 1982, when Harry Skipper returned an interception 101 yards for a touchdown … Josh Brown is likely to handle both the placekicking and the punting chores. Joey Bowers will kick off and also punt in certain situations .. Three members of the Gamecock squad earned their bachelor’s degree last May — LB Rodriques Wilson, DT Preston Thorne, and OG Jonathan Alston.
WEEK 1 VS. VANDERBILT RECAP
South Carolina opened its 2004 campaign with a 31-6 victory over Vanderbilt Sept. 4 in Nashville. The Gamecocks came out in impressive fashion, scoring points on their first three offensive drives. Dondrial Pinkins hurt the Commodore defense with both his legs and his arm, as the senior quarterback rushed for 77 yards and one touchdown and threw for 168 yards and one TD. Offensively, Carolina made good use of its abundance of quality runnng backs, racking up 269 yards rushing, averaging 4.7 yards per rush. Demetris Summers picked up a game-high 87 yards on 11 carries, while fellow backs Gonzie Gray (26 yards), Andrea Gause (25 yards), Daccus Turman (21 yards), and Cory Boyd (16 yards) also were factors in the running game … Receiver Troy Williamson was Pinkins’ favorite target, as the junior had five catches for 99 yards receiving … Noah Whiteside turned in a career-high 43-yard punt return in the win over Vanderbilt … Defensively, Carolina limited Vanderbilt to just the one touchdown. Cornerback Fred Bennett, making his first career start, led the way with eight tackles (six solo) and one tackle for loss. Safety Jamacia Jackson had the 98-yard interception return for a touchdown to go along with seven tackles and one forced fumble. Tackle Darrell Shropshire had two tackles for loss, as did tackle Stanley Doughty … Free safety Ko Simpson, likewise making his first career start, broke up two passes. End Moe Thompson recovered his sixth career fumble in the win over Vanderbilt.
CAROLINA COACHING STAFF
Lou Holtz has assembled a high quality and versatile coaching staff. Four of USC’s assistants have head coaching experience, including Skip Holtz (Connecticut); Rick Minter (Cincinnati); Ron Cooper (Eastern Michigan, Louisville, Alabama A&M); and Dave Roberts (Western Kentucky, Northeast Louisiana, Baylor). Collectively, the staff has coached in 69 post-season bowl games, won a national championship, coached a Heisman Trophy winner, and coached two Lombardi Award winners. A look at Coach Holtz’s coaching career is included on page 5 of this release. Here is a quick look at Coach Holtz’s assistant coaches:
Skip Holtz, assistant head coach/quarterbacks — Begins his sixth season at USC … One of his prize pupils was Phil Petty, who quarterbacked the Gamecocks to a school-best 17 victories and consecutive Outback Bowl crowns in 2000 and 2001 … Former head coach at Connecticut, he guided that program to a level of success which helped pave the way for it to obtain Division 1-A status … Was offensive coordinator at Notre Dame in 1992-93 … Also coached at Florida State and Colorado State.
Rick Minter, defensive coordinator/linebackers — Begins his first season at USC … Former head coach at Cincinnati from 1994-03 … Won more game than any other coach in the history of Cincinnati football … Led the Bearcats to four post-season bowl games … Was defensive coordinator at Notre Dame from 1992-93, a two-year period which saw the Fighting Irish rank among the nation’ stingiest defenses, helping the team win back-to-back Cotton Bowls … During his two seasons at Notre Dame, he coached 18 defensive players who went on to play professionally in the NFL … Became associated with Lou Holtz in 1978, when he worked as a graduate assistant at Arkansas … Also coached at Louisiana Tech, North Carolina State (where he worked alongside Lou Holtz again), New Mexico State and Ball State.
Ron Cooper, defensive backs — Begins his first season at USC … Former head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M … Worked with Lou Holtz at Notre Dame from 1991-92, a two-year period in which the Irish won the Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl … Also coached at Mississippi State, Wisconsin, UNLV, East Carolina, Murray State and Austin Peay … First worked under Coach Holtz as a graduate assistant at Minnesota.
Paul Lounsberry, tight ends/special teams — Begins his fifth season with the Gamecocks … Has also coached the defensive front and offensive line during his stint at Carolina … Served as offensive coordinator at Central Florida for 13 seasons … Recruited and coached quarterback Daunte Culpepper at UCF, who now stars for the Minnesota Vikings … Also has coaching experience at Florida.
Jappy Oliver, defensive line — Begins his second year at USC … Coached the defensive ends in 2003 … Worked eight years as defensive line coach at the Air Force Academy, where he worked under the legendary Fisher DeBerry and helped lead the Falcons to five bowl games … Also has coaching experience at Vanderbilt, Western Illinois, Grand Valley State, the Naval Academy, Northeastern and Eastern Michigan.
David Reaves, defensive backs assistant — Begins his first full-time season at Carolina, after having served as a graduate assistant for two years … Will work with the safeties … Comes from a football family, as his father, John, was an All-America quarterback at Florida and later played in the NFL … His father also coached at Florida and at South Carolina (1996-97) … David’s brother, Steven, plays quarterback at Michigan State University.
Dave Roberts, running backs — Begins his sixth season at USC … Has also coached the spurs and tight ends while at Carolina … Coordinated USC’s recruiting efforts for five years and helped the Gamecocks land back-to-back top 10 nationally ranked recruiting classes — a first in the program’s history … Former head coach at Baylor, Northeast Louisiana and Western Kentucky … Coached alongside Lou Holtz at Notre Dame from 1994-96 … Also coached at Vanderbilt, Davidson and Eastern Kentucky.
Steve Shankweiler, offensive line — Begins his first season at USC … Was offensive line coach at Cincinnati under Rick Minter during the 2003 season … Also has coaching experience at East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Western Kentucky and The Citadel … Worked as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Georgia Tech (1992-94).
Rick Stockstill, wide receivers — Begins his first season at USC … Has recruited 19 players that have been drafted or signed free agent contracts over the past seven years … Came to Carolina after serving as offensive coordinator at East Carolina in 2003 … Spent 14 seasons (1989-02) on the staff at Clemson, where he helped develop some of the school’s most proficient offenses and recruit some of the program’s most successful offensive performers, including Raymond Priester (career rushing leader), Woodrow Dantzler (all-time leading passer), and all-time leading receivers Rod Gardner and Derrick Hamilton … Also has coached at Central Florida and Bethune-Cookman … Played quarterback for Bobby Bowden at Florida State.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of USC’s key personnel on offense for 2004:
#72 Jonathan Alston, OG — Returning starter, he is slated to line up at right guard … Started nine games in 2003 … Physically fit player who has worked extremely hard to prepare for his senior season … Missed five days of practice with an ankle sprain the week prior to the season opener vs. Vanderbilt.
# 3 Cory Boyd, RB — True sophomore who showed flashes of brilliance in 2003 … Rushed for 232 yards and three touchdowns a year ago … Also had 11 receptions for 145 yards and one score … Combines quickness with power in his running style … Played well in season opener vs. Vanderbilt, before having to leave the game in the third quarter with an ankle sprain … Had 16 yards rushing, with one touchdown and four catches for 59 yards, including a long reception of 47 yards.
#39 Brian Brownlee, TE — Senior leader who is the starter at tight end … Had 11 receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns in 2003 … Both TD’s came in the season finale against Clemson … Had a touchdown reception (one yard) from Dondrial Pinkins in the season opening win over Vanderbilt … Played linebacker his first two years at USC.
#70 Na’Shan Goddard, OT — Starter at right tackle … Started 11 games in 2003 … Has developed into a high-quality SEC offensive lineman … Possesses good athleticism and foot work … Has also seen time at guard and center … Nominated for SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week following the win over Vanderbilt.
#26 Gonzie Gray, RB — Senior who is looking to close out his career on a positive note … May have been the biggest surprise of spring practice … Scored two touchdowns in the Spring Game … Has good speed … Made his first career start in the win over Vanderbilt … Rushed five times for 26 yards and had one catch for nine yards … Suffered a sprained knee against Vanderbilt.
#78 Jabari Levey, OT — Starting left tackle … Has size and quickness to become an excellent player … Started seven games at guard in 2003 … He and Goddard could rank among the top pair of offensive tackles in the SEC.
#13 Syvelle Newton, QB — Sophomore who is expected to be a factor at quarterback … Played receiver in 2003, with 12 catches for 277 yards and a long reception of 44 yards (vs. Kentucky and LSU) … Extremely talented athlete who was an all-state quarterback at Marlboro County High School … Played some quarterback in the win over Vanderbilt, completing both of his passes for 16 yards.
#5 Dondrial Pinkins, QB — Returning starter at quarterback … In 2003, he threw for 2,127 yards and 10 touchdowns … Received the Joe Morrison Award for offense (MVP) during spring practice … Has thrown the two longest touchdown passes in South Carolina history — a 99-yarder to Troy Williamson vs. Virginia in 2003 and a 98-yard TD to Matthew Thomas vs. Ole Miss in 2003 … The 99-yarder is the fifth longest play in school history … Became the first quarterback in Division 1-A history to throw two touchdown passes of 98 yards or more in his career … Played well in the season opener vs. Vanderbilt, completing 11 of 18 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown … Also rushed for 77 yards and one touchdown … Nominated for SEC Offensive Player of the Week following his performance vs. Vanderbilt … His career totals are 208-414-13 for 2,747 yards and 15 touchdowns.
#74 John Strickland, C — Senior leader who is the returning starter at center … Named to the preseason watch list for the Rimington Trophy (nation’s top collegiate center) … Has developed into a very good SEC center.
#31 Demetris Summers, RB — True sophomore who is looking to continue his development into a big-time running back … Turned some heads in 2003 with his rushing performances vs. UAB (161 yards) and Tennessee (158 yards) … Became the first USC freshman since Thomas Dendy in 1982 to rush for 100 or more yards in consecutive games … Named to the SEC All-Freshman squad … Finished his rookie campaign with 638 yards rushing and three touchdowns (all vs. UAB). … Also had 11 catches for 146 yards and two TDs … Will also be utilized as a kick return specialist … Parade Magazine All-America at Lexington High School … In the season opener vs. Vanderbilt, he rushed for a game-high 87 yards on 11 carries … Also had one catch for 12 yards.
#15 Matthew Thomas, WR — Veteran receiver who enters the season opener with 32 career receptions for 749 yards and three touchdowns … Also has 31 kickoff returns for 646 yards and one TD (95 yards vs. Virginia in 2002) … Caught a 98-yard touchdown pass from Dondrial Pinkins in 2003 vs. Ole Miss … Started nine games in 2003 and three games in 2002 … Played some cornerback in 2002 … Had one carry for 16 yards in the opener vs. Vanderbilt.
#32 Daccus Turman, RB — Junior who is a hard-nosed runner and blocker … Team’s leading rusher in 2003 with 646 yards and seven touchdowns … Excellent runner between the tackles … Broke Herschel Walker’s single-season rushing record in the state of Georgia with 3,167 yards his senior year at Washington-Wilkes High School … Was steady in the season opener vs. Vanderbilt, picking up 21 yards on six carries.
#60 Chris White, OG — Will start at left guard … Can also play center … Came back from a medical redshirt season in 2003 to play a significant role along the offensive line … Sat out the 2002 campaign after injuring his neck during preseason camp.
#1 Noah Whiteside, WR — True sophomore who looks to have come into his own as a bonafide wide receiver … In 2003, he caught nine balls for 97 yards and two touchdowns (both vs. Ole Miss) … Against the Rebels, he had TD receptions of 33 yards and 20 yards, with the 20-yard grab being one for the highlight reel … Can also return punts … Played well on special teams against Vanderbilt, returning four punts for 63 yards, including a career-long of 43 yards.
DEFENSIVE & SPECIALISTS THUMBNAILS
Here is a quick rundown on some of USC’s key personnel on defense and special teams:
#8 Fred Bennett, CB — True sophomore who will start at one of the cornerback positions … Saw action on special teams and as a backup in 2002 … Had an excellent spring and preseason camp … Named the most improved defensive back of spring practice … Made his first career start vs. Vanderbilt and responded with eight total tackles, including one tackle for loss.
#90 Joey Bowers, K/P — Senior who will handle the kick off chores … Also serves as the backup punter … Punted 21 times for a 39.6 average in 2003 … Had a long punt of 54 yards vs. Georgia … Had 11 of his punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
#87 Josh Brown, K/P — Junior who will handle the punting and placekicking chores … Had a 40.5 punting average in 2003 … Booted a career-best 64-yarder vs. Florida … His best day may have come against Ole Miss, when he averaged 48 yards on four punts.
#90 Jason Capers, DT — Veteran who has developed into a valuable member of the defensive front … Can also play defensive end … Moved over to tackle and will start there alongside Darrell Shropshire … Started five games in 2003 … Makes up for his lack of mass with his quickness off the ball.
#99 George Gause, DE — Should rank among the top defensive ends in the SEC … Named the most consistent defensive performer of the spring … Has 10 career quarterback sacks and 13.5 career tackles for loss … Has forced five fumbles during his career … Named to the SEC All-Freshman team in 2001 … Credited with three total tackles vs. Vanderbilt.
#33 Chris Hampton, FS — True freshman who has been impressive during preseason camp … Is undersized for the time being, but he seems to make up for his lack of size with a nose for the football … Is currently backing up Ko Simpson at free safety … In his collegiate debut vs. Vanderbilt, he made one tackle.
#6 Jermaine Harris, SS — Senior leader who has emerged as a quality defender … Started five games at safety a year ago … Will compete with Jamacia Jackson for starting berth at strong safety in 2004 … May have the best sense of humor on the ball club … Came up with his first career interception in the season opening victory over Vanderbilt … Also assisted with four tackles in that game.
#42 Ricardo Hurley, LB — Appears to be healthy heading into the 2004 season, which wasn’t the case a year ago … Was hampered with nagging ankle and knee injuries … Has had an excellent preseason camp … Came to Carolina has a highly touted linebacker and was listed by some recruiting gurus as the #1 linebacker prospect in the country … In the season opening win over Vanderbilt, he was credited with six tackles and 1/2 tackle for loss.
#16 Jamacia Jackson, SS — Senior who is looking to have his best season to date … Started seven games at safety in 2003 … Has 95 career tackles … Provides solid run support …Nominated for SEC Defensive Player of the Week following his performance in the win over Vanderbilt, as he was in on seven tackles, forced a fumble and returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown … That return ranks as the fourth longest in school history … It was Jackson’s first career interception.
#9 Johnathan Joseph, CB — First-year player who transferred in from Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College … Went through spring practice … Coaching staff is very high on his future … Had off-season shoulder surgery … Competing with Tremaine Tyler for starting berth … Against Vanderbilt, he made two tackles, broke up a pass and forced a fumble.
#51 Orus Lambert, LB — Redshirt junior who has come on to earn a shot at some significant playing time at linebacker … Will back up Marcus Lawrence in the middle … Plays exceptionally well against the run.
#48 Lance Laury, LB — Another solid linebacker who looks to be healthier than he was a year ago … Was slowed with a sore knee for much of the 2003 campaign … Started 11 of the 12 games in 2003 … Selected Freshman All-America in 2002, as his 90 total tackles ranked third highest on the team … Had two tackles in the lid-lifter vs. Vanderbilt.
#46 Marcus Lawrence, LB — Starting middle linebacker … Team’s second leading tackler in 2003 with 99 total hits … Led the squad with 9.5 tackles for loss … Was in on a career-best 12 tackles against Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas … Was in on four tackles and forced a fumble vs. Vanderbilt.
#14 Taqiy Muhammad, CB — Senior who will back up Fred Bennett at cornerback … Versatile player who has also played receiver during his career … Donates much of his time to working in the community and serving others … Had two tackles and broke up a pass vs. Vanderbilt.
#57 Darrell Shropshire, DT — Senior who is gearing up for a big year in 2004 … Started all 12 games a year ago after transferring from Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College … Missed a couple days of practice last week while recovering from some dental work … Played well in the season opener vs. Vanderbilt, with three tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and one quarterback sack.
#10 Ko Simpson, FS — True freshman who originally signed with the Gamecocks in 2003 but did not enroll until the spring semester, 2004 … As a result, he was able to go through spring practice … Talented young player who has nailed down the starting role at free safety … Was solid in his collegiate debut vs. Vanderbilt, with four tackles and two pass break ups.
#91 Moe Thompson, DE — Preseason All-SEC candidate … Combines with George Gause to provide USC with a duo of outstanding defensive ends … Named honorable mention All-SEC by the Associated Press in 2003 … Had five sacks and five tackles for loss to go along with his 60 total tackles … Had one tackle and recovered his sixth career fumble in the win over Vanderbilt.
#94 Preston Thorne, DT — Senior who has come back from major knee surgery to earn a spot on the depth chart … Was the starting nose guard until he tore ligaments in his knee against UAB last season … Will back up Jason Capers at defensive tackle … Was in on one tackle vs. Vanderbilt.
#23 Tremaine Tyler, CB — Has come on to earn a starting berth at cornerback … Appeared in all 12 games with one start a year ago … Had his first career interception last season vs. LSU … Was active vs. Vanderbilt with five tackles.
#25 Cody Wells, LB — Redshirt freshman who was moved to outside linebacker during fall camp … Had previously been working at safety … While he may be undersized, the coaches are excited about his aggressive style of play … Credited with four tackle assists vs. Vanderbilt.
#11 Rodriques Wilson, LB — Senior leader who started at safety a year ago … Moved to outside linebacker during the spring and has nailed down a starting role at that position … Originally recruited as a quarterback to USC … Against Vanderbilt, he was in on four tackles, including 1/2 for loss, had one quarterback sack