It wasn't only the start of game week for South Carolina. It marked the start of coach Lou Holtz's grooming policy.
Holtz let the team grow about anything they wanted during the past month's training camp. Now, he wants his players neat and trim.
"I just want it to be neat," the 67-year-old Holtz said. "I don't care what you have, just be neat. That's all I want, be neat."
Holtz has spent the off-season trying bring a winning atmosphere to the Gamecocks. He calls it "changing the culture" and includes discussions about citizenship, responsibility and good grooming.
And that had several players scrambling around with scissors or razors before Monday's practice. Center John Strickland shaved most of his face stubble, leaving some around his mouth. His hair, however, was straggly and curled up around the ends.
Defensive end George Gause said he also shaved his leftover stubble into a fine, beard outline rimming his face.
"I don't think that's going to determine whether we win or lose," Gause said. "But you have to look professional if you want to play for this university."
WEIGHTED DOWN: Senior defensive end David Pollack was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year as a sophomore when he led the league with 14 sacks.
But after playing that year at around 265 pounds, Pollack slowly let his weight build through his junior season, even though few noticed the difference as he again led the team with 7 sacks despite more attention from blockers.
This spring Pollack has confided that he was up to 282 pounds at the Capital One Bowl game, and he made a point of losing the excess weight. Now the 6-foot-3 Pollack is listed at 261 pounds and appears set for another big year.
"He's very excited, and I think he's in as good shape as he's ever been in," coach Mark Richt said. Having a healthy Will Thompson at the other defensive end, plus better depth at the interior positions, should help "bring him up a little bit," Richt said.
GEORGIA TECH SHUFFLE: The Yellow Jackets have plenty of backfield talent returning, including quarterback and Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year Reggie Ball and tailback P.J. Daniels, the leading rusher in the conference last season.
Finding quality players to block for Ball and Daniels might be a problem. Georgia Tech lost center Hugh Reilly and tackle Nat Dorsey to the NFL, and injuries during preseason drills have left little depth for Saturday's opener against Division I-AA Samford.
"It doesn't matter what the situation is," coach Chan Gailey said.
"It doesn't matter who you are playing or when you are playing. If you have this much disruption in your offensive line, you're going to have issues."
Reilly's replacement, Andy Tidwell-Neal, started every game a year ago at guard. His move to center has come amid the other changes.
"(Tidwell-Neal) is probably the one piece of the puzzle that locks it all together, so to speak," Gailey said.
"He directs people. He gets people lined up. He can now direct everything and that has been a big plus, and will stay a big plus, for our offensive line."
POSTPONING? Florida State and Miami might have to wait a few days before playing their season opener.
School officials were strongly considering postponing the game five days from Monday to Sept. 11 because of Hurricane Frances. They were expected to announce a decision today.
"We'd like to play it, but I'm not sure it's in the cards," Florida State President T.K. Wetherell said Wednesday.
Wetherell said evacuations along Florida's east coast would cause travel problems for fans, band members and others heading south to the Orange Bowl.
ABC executives and officials from both schools were discussing proposals Wednesday for rescheduling the game.
A likely scenario would move it to Saturday.
Miami athletic director Paul Dee said he would discuss the situation with the ACC and Florida State officials today.
"I just want it to be neat. I don't care what you have, just be neat. That's all I want, be neat."- South Carolina coach Lou Holtz
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