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18 South Carolina Lou Holtz proved he could take the Gamecocks to the elite level--now the job, just as tough, is to stay there

During one practice last fall, backup quarterback Corey Jenkins
misread a play and then badly overthrew a pass to the wrong
receiver. That immediately drew the ire of coach Lou Holtz, who
got in Jenkins's face. "How can you be a quarterback and not know
how to throw the ball?" Holtz screamed. "You will never, ever
play quarterback at the University of South Carolina!"

Less than a year later Jenkins, a senior, is the Gamecocks'
starting quarterback. With the graduation of Phil Petty, Holtz
turned to Jenkins, a 25-year-old former outfielder in the Red Sox
and White Sox organizations. Jenkins isn't the only new face:
After a 9-3 season and back-to-back bowl victories for the first
time in school history, South Carolina lost 13 starters and is in
a transition year. "We've got a lot of question marks this year,"
Holtz says. "This is the kind of season I like."

Though he can throw the ball more than 70 yards, the 6'2",
222-pound Jenkins has struggled at times. (He threw three
interceptions the first week of spring practice.) In Holtz's
conservative multiple scheme, Jenkins, who has 4.5 speed, will
often take the ball and run. That's when he's not handing off to
senior running backs Andrew Pinnock (6 feet, 250 pounds) or Ryan
Brewer, who anchor what should be a punishing ground game.

On defense the Gamecocks have a lot of holes to fill. Seven
starters, including five who were NFL draft picks, are gone from
a unit that carried the team the last two years, ranking sixth in
scoring defense in 2000 and 12th in '01. (The offense was 72nd in
scoring both years.) Sophomore defensive end George Gause, who
had a team-high 10 tackles in South Carolina's Outback Bowl
victory over Ohio State, has emerged as the defense's star, but
he'll need help.

Jenkins, for one, isn't worried. He says his side can pick up the
slack. "I've told the defense they're allowed to give up 21
points a game," Jenkins says. "The offense will take care of the
rest." --Gene Menez

COLOR PHOTO: DAVID BERGMAN GROUND BEEF The 250-pound Pinnock will anchor a bruising running game that should take pressure off raw quarterback Jenkins.


2001 RECORD: 9-3 (5-3, T3 in SEC East)
FINAL RANKING: No. 13 AP, No. 13 coaches' poll


Gamecocks games decided by five points or fewer. They won five
of those, including a 31-28 Outback Bowl win over Ohio State.

An opposing coach's view

A wide array of sets forces opponents to be flexible

"They are a spread-out, ball-control passing team, with occasional
vertical plays and power runs.... They lost a good deal on
defense. They're pretty good up front. I was very impressed with
noseguard Langston Moore. He's broad, a little squatty, a good
leverage player with good lateral quickness.... The tailback,
Ryan Brewer, gives them the versatility to go with a two-back
or a four-wide-receiver formation without changing personnel.
Opposing defenses have to be especially flexible to adjust."

Strength: 15th

Sept. 7 at Virginia
28 at Vanderbilt
12 at Kentucky
19 at LSU
16 at Florida
23 at Clemson