Originally created 09/14/99

Holtz may be telling truth about South Carolina



COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina coach Lou Holtz has made a Hall of Fame career and a nice little nest egg urging people to fight through adversity to achieve success.

But he hadn't seen the Gamecocks in action before this year.

"I have the radio on to keep me from thinking about suicide when I'm driving in the car," said Holtz, who seemed more frustrated than hopeful about South Carolina's 0-2 start.

The coach rolled off South Carolina's problems as easily as his worshipers tout his successes:

-- the Gamecocks got no protection from the offensive line and surrendered five sacks.

-- they gained only 46 yards rushing and freshman star Derek Watson had only 29 yards, down from 118 at North Carolina State.

-- the defense didn't get a sack or interception as Quincy Carter passed 38 times in Georgia's 24-9 win.

South Carolina's losing streak stands at 12, second longest in the country behind Kent's 15 straight defeats.

Things figure to worsen this week with undefeated East Carolina (2-0) coming to Williams-Brice Stadium for the Gamecocks' home opener.

"Losing can become a habit the same as winning can. Sometimes things don't fit and you start blaming players and coaches and team and officials and everything else," he said. "You try and build on the positive. What was disappointing, we had some people play well against N.C. State, but they didn't play particularly well against the University of Georgia."

Sounds like somebody needs to read Holtz's bestseller, "Winning Every Day."

"We're not seeing on Saturday what we're seeing during the week," Holtz said. "We're going to get some answers."

Holtz usually has the right ones. He took five other teams to bowl appearances in his second season and won a national title at Notre Dame three years after arriving. His speeches draw thousands, all ready to hear a man tell them how they can exceed their boundaries and fly to the sky.

That hasn't worked so far with the Gamecocks.

"We need execution," he said. "We keep making the same mistakes over and over and over. We're going to find out why."

Linebacker John Abraham sometimes worries that continued losing will throw the Gamecocks into last year's funk, where they lost 10 straight. "But we're playing so hard, I can't see why we would stop playing hard," he said.

Holtz said center Scott Browne will be lost for the season with a torn knee ligament. He has not heard officially from the NCAA Clearinghouse about fullback Andrew Pinnock, but says he's proceeding as if the freshman won't play this year.

There were some positives, Holtz said. He liked the secondary, led by Sheldon Brown and Rashad Faison. The unit will get Arturo Freeman and Andre Goodman back this week, Holtz said.

Cedric Williams, a converted defensive lineman, is a budding star on the offensive line and a solid block to build on, Holtz said.

Linebacker Corey Atkins, despite a broken bone in his wrist, led South Carolina with 13 tackles. "I think we'll try and break everyone's wrist this week," Holtz said.

After railing about his team's problems, Holtz sucked it up at the end in his typically hopeful style.

"This is not going to be easy," he said. "But maybe this ain't all that bad it happened this way. It's going to make us stronger. We'll remember what we've been through."