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Knee strain may cost Gamecocks team MVP

By JAMAL THALJI and JOHN SCHWARB
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 27, 2001

TAMPA -- Team MVP Brian Scott, South Carolina's leading receiver, strained his left knee during Wednesday's practice at the University of Tampa.

He spent the rest of the practice on crutches and is doubtful for the New Year's Day Outback Bowl matchup against No.22 Ohio State at Raymond James Stadium.

The 6-foot-3, 214-pound senior led the No. 14 Gamecocks in receptions (40), receiving yards (647) and touchdown catches (four).

"Brian Scott could be out and that would be a big loss," coach Lou Holtz said. "That would mean that not only would we be without our top defensive player, we could be out with our team's MVP."

South Carolina also lost outside linebacker Kalimba Edwards, a 6-6, 250-pound Butkus award semifinalist who sprained ligaments in his left knee in the Nov. 10 loss to Florida and has not practiced or played since.

Edwards did not have surgery, and two doctors have recommended he not risk further injury by playing. He was fourth on the team with 55 tackles.

TAKING A BREATHER: Ohio State took its second consecutive day off from practice, but that's hardly a sign the Buckeyes are taking their bowl preparations lightly.

Ohio State already has practiced six times at South Florida, with four sessions scheduled before the game. South Carolina arrived Christmas evening and held its first of five local practices Wednesday.

"We'd like to get a couple good days of work in before all the bowl activities happen," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "We'd like to get outside and get acclimated to the climate we're playing in."

The Buckeyes arrived Friday, 10 days before their rematch. A year ago, Ohio State waited until Dec. 26 to travel, spending the holiday at home. The team last missed Christmas at home after the 1994 and '95 seasons, going early to Orlando for Citrus Bowl appearances under coach John Cooper.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: Holtz, noted for strict practices, was not pleased with Wednesday's effort.

"It wasn't one of our sharper practices, but we've been away from it for a few days and you could tell at times," the coach said. "We had some problems with the center-quarterback exchange and we'll get that resolved."

WELCOME ABOARD: Joker Phillips was named a South Carolina assistant coach.

The 14-year coaching veteran will coach wide receivers, Holtz said, with receivers coach Todd Fitch now coaching the running backs. The move completes the domino effect created by the departure of assistant coach Oliver Pough, who was named head coach at South Carolina State on Dec. 11.

QUARTERBACK SHUFFLE: The question of whether or not Steve Bellisari will return to play quarterback is likely to surface frequently around Buckeyes camp.

On the team's first day in Tampa, Tressel left the door open to allowing the senior to start for the first time since a drunk driving arrest Nov. 16.

"That will be a tough one to tell right now; if the game were today (sophomore) Craig Krenzel would start," Tressel said. "I'd like Steve to play. He's a senior, I want his career to end on a bright note."

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