COLUMBIA - South Carolina quarterback Collin Hill sees his offense getting better. Hill and the Gamecocks will get the chance to show how improved they are against No. 15 Auburn.
Hill is the graduate transfer who followed his former coach, first-year Gamecocks offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, to South Carolina. Early on, Hill recalls, the transition was not smooth.
"This summer, we couldn't get lined up sometimes," Hill said. "We've come a long way, but we're not where we want to be. I think we just have to continue to work."
The Gamecocks (1-2 Southeastern Conference) must take another step forward Saturday if they hope to keep up with No. 15 Auburn (2-1), their third ranked opponent in four games.
South Carolina pulled away in the second half to put away Vanderbilt 41-7 last week as tailback Kevin Harris ran for 171 yards including an 88-yard touchdown run. It was Harris' second straight game with 100-plus yards.
The Gamecocks have also excelled at the passing game. Shi Smith had 22 catches in losses to ranked opponents in Tennessee and Florida until Vanderbilt limited him to four receptions a week ago. Still, Smith is a surprising third in the SEC at nearly nine catches a game.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has schemed against and for Bobo teams in the past since Bobo spent years as Georgia's offensive coordinator before moving to Colorado State.
Malzahn said Bobo "does a good job of scheming up the run game which, I've said before in this league, you've to be able to run it and throw it. So you look at his grad transfer quarterback, you can tell he's been with him. You can tell he's comfortable."
The Gamecocks, near the bottom of several SEC offensive categories last season, are sixth in scoring and rushing yards.
Some other things to watch when No. 15 Auburn plays South Carolina:
Auburn freshman Tank Bigsby had an impressive performance in the 30-28 win over Arkansas last week. Bigsby had 268 all-purpose yards, the first Tiger to top the 250 mark in that category since Tre Mason in 2013. Bigsby finished with 146 yards rushing, 106 in kickoff returns and 16 in receiving.
BEEN A WHILE
Auburn has not played at South Carolina since 2011 when the unranked Tigers upset the 10th-ranked Gamecocks and coach Steve Spurrier, 16-13. Auburn has an eight game winning streak in the series with South Carolina's only victory coming in 1933.
HEY, AREN'T YOU...
Auburn offensive coordinator Chad Morris returns to Williams-Brice Stadium for the first time since filled the same role for South Carolina's rival Clemson from 2011-14. Clemson and Morris lost both trips to South Carolina, part of a five-in-row unprecedented win streak for the Gamecocks in the rivalry.
Auburn got a boost from walk-on linebacker Barton Lester in the 30-28 win over Arkansas last week. Lester fell on the football in the end zone after Jordyn Peters blocked the Razorbacks' punt to start Auburn's scoring. Malzahn said he, like Lester, was a walk on player.
"What's really stood out to me about him is just he does anything we ask him to do," the coach said.
South Carolina defensive back Shilo Sanders says Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp gets loud - but not nearly has loud as his Pro Football Hall of Fame father Deion Sanders. The younger Sanders was coached by his dad in the past and said when he wants to get a message across, he's got the voice and projection to make you hear it, no matter where you are on the field.
NO. 15 AUBURN @ SOUTH CAROLINA
No. 15 Auburn (2-1 SEC) at South Carolina (1-2), Saturday at noon ET (ESPN).
Line: Auburn by 3.
Series record: Auburn leads 10-1-1.
WHAT'S AT STAKE?
Auburn is hoping to keep pace in the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference after falling to No. 3 Georgia two weeks ago. The Tigers bounced back with a 30-28 win over Arkansas on a late field goal after Auburn quarterback Bo Nix spiked the ball, which some thought was a backwards lateral. South Carolina is seeking its second straight win for the first time in 10 games after defeating Vanderbilt 41-7 last week.
South Carolina RB Kevin Harris vs. Auburn's defensive line. Harris has run for 100 or more yards the past two weeks and the Gamecocks will need similar production if they hope to defeat Auburn for the first time since 1933. The Tigers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season despite being 10th in the SEC against the rush.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Auburn: RB Tank Bigsby. The freshman put up 268 all-purpose yards against Arkansas last week. That was the first time a Tiger has surpassed 250 yards in that category since Tre Mason in 2013.
South Carolina: WR Shi Smith is third in the SEC with 27 catches with two touchdowns. Smith is sixth nationally in receptions per game.
FACTS & FIGURES
Auburn has won the past eight games against South Carolina, dating to 1933. ... South Carolina coach Will Muschamp worked at Auburn in three separate occasions, including for current coach Gus Malzahn in 2015 the season before getting the Gamecocks' job. ... Bigsby had 146 yards rushing and receiver Anthony Schwartz had 100 yards receiving against Arkansas, the first time in three years the Tigers had a rusher and receiver surpass the 100-yard mark in the same game. ... In Auburn's 24-17 victory at South Carolina in 2007, the Tigers held the Gamecocks without an offensive snap in the third quarter. ... Redshirt sophomore Shilo Sanders had his most extensive action in South Carolina's secondary last week, making 5.5 tackles against Vanderbilt. Sanders is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders.
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