Bowden: Gamecocks' Brewer Is 'The Ultimate College Football Player'

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Tommy Bowden knows what every other South Carolina opponent has discovered so far this season:

To stop the Gamecocks, you must stop the running game.

Individually no South Carolina running back presents himself as a single, dominant threat, at least judging by mere statistics. But as a duo, Derek Watson and Andrew Pinnock have given the Gamecocks a solid ground attack that hits from all angles.

Watson, though troubled again by fumbles this season, has rushed for 537 yards and four touchdowns on 110 carries, an average of 4.9 yards per attempt. Pinnock, the fullback, has scored a team-high 10 touchdowns while running for 493 yards on 89 carries (5.5 yards per attempt).

"They're probably the best two back (combination) in the SEC," Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said following Wednesday's practice. "That's what they feel is one of their strengths...that's what they like to do."

They seem to be the perfect compliment to one another. Watson is the speed back, the breakaway threat. Pinnock is the power back, a big guy the likes of which has given the Tigers fits at times this season.

"You better hang on," Bowden said when asked the best way to attack Pinnock. "You'd better bring the load. There ain't no arm-tackling him. Sometimes you can get a little bitty guy by the collar and bring them down, but not (Pinnock). You better hit him pretty solid."

Of course the added threat the Gamecocks bring is the multidimensional talent of Ryan Brewer.

Though his rushing stats are down (25 carries, 92 yards), versatility is what makes Brewer dangerous. He returns punts and kickoffs, and is the team's second-leading receiver with 31 catches for 312 yards and two touchdowns.

"He's the ultimate college football player," Bowden said. "He's a running back, he's a'd take 10 of him on your team."

Brewer's shining moment in his young career was a heart-stopping performance last Jan. 1 against Ohio State in the Outback Bowl.

The 1999 Ohio Player of the Year as a high school senior, Brewer was shunned by the Buckeyes in recruiting and ultimately signed with the Gamecocks. Given the chance to start at tailback in the bowl game because of disciplinary measures taken against Watson, Brewer responded with 219 total yards and three touchdown in USC's 24-7 victory.

"I about wrote him a note after that bowl game. I came close," Bowden said of Brewer. "Just hearing what he did: being from Ohio, Player of the Year, turned down, go up there and win the've got to admire a guy like that. The guy lived a dream. Not many guys get to do that."


- Wide receiver Jackie Robinson, who missed last Saturday's game at Maryland with a pulled groin, is "close to hitting on all cylinders," Bowden said.

He stopped short of saying Robinson definitely will play against South Carolina, but seemed happy with the junior's progress. Robinson, along with senior safety Charles Hafley (pulled hamstring), both practiced Wednesday, but at less than full speed.

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