Auburn travels to Columbia, South Carolina, this Saturday to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks. Here are some players to watch and keys to victory for both Auburn and South Carolina.
Tank Bigsby (RB) - Against Arkansas, Bigsby looked like a man on a mission. The true freshman running back had 268 all-purpose yards, the most by a Tiger since Tre Mason’s 312 against Missouri in the 2013 SEC Championship Game.
Bigsby’s total carries could decrease with the return of fellow running back Shaun Shivers, but it appears that Bigsby has taken over the starting running back role. Look for Bigsby to not only make an impact on the ground but through the air as well. Bigsby led the Tigers in receiving against Georgia and is ranked third on the team in receiving yards through three games.
Colby Wooden (DT) - Wooden got his first career sack against the Razorbacks in just his third career start. After missing nine games in 2019 with mononucleosis, Wooden made his first career start against Kentucky this season. The redshirt freshman has already more than tripled his total tackles from last year.
Zakoby McClain (LB) - With the loss of starting linebacker K.J. Britt, it will be all hands on deck for the Auburn defense. McClain currently leads the team in total tackles and will continue being a leader on the defense in Britt's absence.
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Against Arkansas, McClain led the Tigers with 13 total tackles in the first game without Britt. On Tuesday, Gus Malzahn said that he was impressed with McClain and Owen Pappoe stepping up in Britt's absence.
"We’re in great shape with him and Owen (Pappoe)," Malzahn said. "You’ll see those guys continue to improve. Both of them, like I said, they got the helmet sticker on defense because they were all over the field and made plays, defeated blocks. It was good to watch."
Kevin Harris (RB) - The Gamecocks' running back is currently second in the SEC in rushing yards with 326 rushing yards and is fourth in total touchdowns with five scores through three games. Auburn is currently allowing over 150 rushing yards per game, so look for the Gamecocks to exploit this.
Colin Hill (QB) - The senior transfer from Colorado State is in his first year with South Carolina and ranks eighth in the SEC in passing yards. Hill has been sacked 10 times through three games, so if his offensive line can keep him off the ground, watch for him to showcase his passing ability. Hill has thrown the ball 110 times through three games but has only thrown three touchdowns.
Kingsley Enagbare (DE) - Enagbare already has three sacks on the year, tying him for second in the SEC. Enagbare has also forced two fumbles and has 13 total tackles this year. South Carolina’s interior defensive line is smaller than most SEC teams, so look for Enagbare to lead the Gamecocks pass rush.
Keys to victory
If the Tigers hope to earn their first road win of the season, it starts with their offensive line. In the Tigers’ first two games of the season, they only had 130 yards rushing, but they nearly doubled that number last Saturday alone against Arkansas. With a small interior defensive line, look for the Tigers to run the ball.
South Carolina currently allows the third-fewest passing yards per game, so look for Auburn to exploit the South Carolina run defense.
For the Gamecocks to get their second win of the year, they’ll have to play with the same intensity they do in the first half of games. In South Carolina’s two losses on the year, they have been in contention for the first half before blowing leads and cooling down in the second half. If they can keep it a close game in the second half, the Gamecocks will have a chance to knock off the visiting Tigers.
In addition to not blowing momentum, South Carolina will have to play to its strengths. With the team allowing the third-fewest total yards on defense, the Gamecocks will need to shut down the Auburn offense that can explode at any minute.
Auburn will take on South Carolina at 11 a.m. CST, with the game being televised on ESPN.
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