USC defensive line coach Brad Lawing smiled as he looked at his favorite pieces of instructional equipment as they were brought into the hotel lobby upon the team’s arrival Wednesday afternoon.
He pointed to boxes of large, green rubber balls and predicted that his linemen would hate to see that they made the trip to Tampa.
He was right. As soon as defensive end Jadeveon Clowney spotted them, he groaned and muttered a few choice words.
But Lawing loves those green balls, which he uses as chairs in his positional meetings. If the players don’t stay focused — and awake, they fall right off the balls while their coach quickly discovers which ones weren’t paying attention.
“When they saw the green balls were here, they were very upset because they thought they were finally going to get to sit in chairs,” he said. “Of course, what made it worse is they don’t even have any desks (here) so they’re sitting on the green balls out in the middle of nowhere.”
Lawing said the balls command their attention, especially with no backs to lean on, and he calls their addition to his meetings a real plus.
“The players know the purpose of them, but they really don’t like sitting on those things,” he said. “I’m always looking for better ways to teach them. We’re in dark rooms a lot watching tape, and every now and then one of them will fall asleep. But now they can't do that.”
The Gamecocks’ first Outback Bowl win came in Lou Holtz’s second season at the helm.
South Carolina beat Ohio State 24-7 behind 109 rushing yards and three touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving) from sophomore running back Ryan Brewer, an Ohio native who also caught three passes for 92 yards.
The USC defense held the Buckeyes to 85 rushing yards, and freshman safety Deandre Eiland had two interceptions in the rout. It was the second bowl win in school history and ended South Carolina’s season at 8-4 with a No. 19 finish in the national rankings.
11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — DeBartolo Team Luncheon
2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. — Practice at Jefferson High
6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. — Team night at Splitsville, as players from both teams will eat and have a bowling competition.
“It feels real good because I’ve got a lot of friends and family and old coaches that were able to get tickets to the game. So there will be a lot of them in the stands. I just plan on having the best game I can have.” - USC junior wide receiver Ace Sanders on playing near his hometown of Bradenton, Fla.
Compiled by Neil White and Josh Kendall
Practice sights, sounds