When South Carolina coach Lou Holtz held a teleconference with the Florida media Tuesday afternoon, he said he wasn't feeling his best.
Turns out, that was an understatement.
Holtz, who had severe flu symptoms, missed most of Thursday's practice and received intravenous fluids after seeking medical attention. He returned to work late that afternoon.
Holtz spent most of Friday at home recovering and did not attend his weekly "Lunch with Lou" affair. Holtz did conduct the team meeting Friday night and was a guest on Saturday's ESPN GameDay.
This is the second time Holtz's status has been in question during Florida week. The last time UF visited Columbia two years ago, Holtz's mother died during the week, but the coach returned to the sideline.
GROSSMAN, PART II: The last time Florida quarterback Rex Grossman lined up against South Carolina, he didn't even make it through the first quarter before being pulled. With the Gators trailing 21-3, senior Jesse Palmer took over and led Florida to a 41-21 victory in Gainesville last season. Grossman said he was disappointed in the game, but he thinks he learned from the adversity and said it was not on his mind Saturday night.
"It was frustrating," Grossman said. "I wasn't frustrated at someone, I was mainly just frustrated at the situation. But that is history. I am not looking back."
Coach Steve Spurrier said he thinks Grossman handled being pulled "okay," adding that the redshirt sophomore is much better prepared to be the starting quarterback this season.
"He is a lot smarter," Spurrier said. "Sometimes he didn't understand why he was pulled until he watched the tape, then he understood a little bit. He still can improve quite a bit, but he is much better than last year."
JOHNSON IS KEY: South Carolina center Larrell Johnson is having a stellar season with the Gamecocks. The Tampa Robinson grad originally was a guard, but Holtz said after last season's bowl game he realized that he lacked size at center and decide to move the 6-foot-3, 305-pound senior to center.
"He's started every game this year and he's playing very, very well," Holtz said. "He has played exceptionally fine football, and I would say he's probably been our most consistent offensive lineman."
Defensive back Kevin House (Chamberlain), linebacker Lenny Williams (Jesuit) and tackle Watts Sanderson (Tampa Catholic) also are from Tampa and among the 14 Florida natives on the USC roster.
ESPN IN THE HOUSE: Fans got an early start getting ready for Saturday night's game as hundreds turned out for the first visit from ESPN's GameDay.
The GameDay crew of Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit did its 90-minute show from the Columbia Fairgrounds. Holtz said having ESPN in town was an important step for the program.
"GameDay coming here is a big thing," he said. "I understand some of the seniors when they were freshmen and were going through the 1-10 and 0-11, they made a vow to themselves that they were going to bring GameDay here someday. So being on ESPN and conference championship implications that's why you always work, to get a game like this."
Linebacker Kenny Harney said the team got together after that 0-11 campaign and talked of what could be with hard work.
"GameDay was one of the things that we said, yeah, it would be nice to have because most people know about (it). That's kind of like the big show for that Saturday."
_ ANTONYA ENGLISH