Originally created 02/24/01

South Carolina holds first spring practice

COLUMBIA - South Carolina coach Lou Holtz says he realized two things at the Gamecocks' first spring practice - his team is more talented and every position is open.

"I think we're going to have more competition than before," Holtz said after South Carolina practiced in shorts Friday. The first practice in pads comes Sunday.

It was a light, high-spirited practice that saw Holtz wrestle with his grandchildren and praise his receivers for their ability to catch the ball in their chests and not stab at it.

"We're trying to teach fundamentals today and tomorrow, and then on Sunday we'll learn how to play the game of football," Holtz said.

South Carolina is coming off one of its most successful seasons ever. The team went 8-4 in 2000, won the Outback Bowl, and ended with a No. 19 ranking just a year after going 0-11.

But Holtz said most of his players have put the success of last year behind them.

"The only thing that was even mentioned is, when are they going to get their rings and watches," Holtz said.

Friday's practice was low-key. Holtz did not spend any time with the kicking game, and he said the workout provided few clues into his offensive and defensive lines.

"The lines start playing when the pads go on," Holtz said.

Also practicing was Derek Watson, who has attracted a lot of attention for his academic and off-the-field troubles.

The junior running back now has a tutor. But Holtz himself is working on Watson's problems outside of football, which included tickets for driving too fast and driving with a suspended license after crashing a teammate's car in December and an accusation that he shoved and threatened a student referee during an intramural basketball game.

Holtz suspended Watson from the Outback Bowl because of the crash and said he will discipline Watson in-house for the basketball incident.

Holtz said he still supports Watson because "he's positive, he's upbeat and he's a great asset ... I'm a Derek Watson fan."

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