COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Lou Holtz looks at his football team and said Monday he sees concerns just about everywhere.
His offensive line is small and inexperienced. His defensive secondary is without leader Arturo Freeman, who ruptured his spleen last week and will miss at least four weeks.
He worries about his quarterback, the running game, the kicking game.
The young Gamecocks lack depth and experience. Holtz openly questions their physical toughness and conditioning.
"I can't honestly tell you a strength of our football team, other than the fact we've worked hard," Holtz said. "I can tell you where I have a lot of concerns."
You'd think he wouldn't want to play No. 24 North Carolina State (1-0) on Saturday in the Gamecocks' season opener.
No, Holtz says, "I feel so emotional about this game and I don't think I'll have any problem getting this team ready to go."
He's back on the sidelines after two years in television as an analyst for CBS.
He talks about how getting back into coaching has sharpened his mind and improved his memory.
He talks about waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat trying to figure out how to beat N.C. State, which opened last weekend with a 23-20 victory at Texas that knocked the Longhorns out of the Top 25.
He talks about the rapid passage of time since he was hired in December.
Still, Holtz said, "When you spend as many years on the sidelines as I have, it's not a big adjustment when you've been away from it for two years."
Monday's news conference was in many ways a replay of what Holtz has said and said again during the recent months of intense media and fan attention.
Once again, he said turning around the Gamecocks, 1-10 last season, is unlike any of the other five college football rebuilding projects he's undertaken.
Still, the Gamecocks have noticed Holtz's enthusiasm. Senior running back Boo Williams says it has infected the entire coaching staff
"He's been real intense in practice lately and really picky," Williams said. "It's the first game and everybody is anxious to get out there and play."
Despite the potential problems.
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Notes: Freeman can have his spleen removed and be out four weeks, or let it heal and miss the season, Holtz said. ... Holtz is still waiting to hear from the NCAA on the eligibility of freshman fullback Andrew Pinnock. ...Saturday's game is the 55th between the teams in a rivalry that dates to 1900, but the first since 1991 when the Wolfpack won 38-21 in Columbia, their third straight victory in the series. The overall series is tied at 25-25-4.
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