The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks lose turnover battle, game to Auburn


Spurrier being Spurrier —

For what seems to be the first time this season, head football coach Steve Spurrier threw caution to the wind Saturday night, tossing the entire playbook at the Auburn Tigers, hoping to catch them sleeping. A fourth-down conversion on South Carolina's own 33 yard line,  paired with a couple of reverse passes kept the Tigers on their toes. The Gamecocks matched their season total in fourth-down conversions on Saturday night, converting all but one of six attempts.  South Carolina is now 10 for 14 on the season and tied for 17th in the nation. Spurrier also called an onside kick in the third quarter that the Gamecocks wound up recovering. He also noted after the game that if junior Jerell Adams had caught Dylan Thompson's last pass for a touchdown, he would have gone for the win with a two-point conversion.

Davis outshined by passing game —

Junior running back Mike Davis failed to reach 100 rushing yards Saturday night, but still managed 4.2 yards on average every time he carried the ball. Davis finished with 88 rushing yards on 21 carries, the first time he fell short of the century mark since he ran for 82 yards against Vanderbilt. He has averaged at least four yards per carry six games out of the team's eight games. Davis' season-high six receptions earned him 85 receiving yards, good for 173 total yards. The Gamecocks ran the ball 33 times compared to 53 pass attempts, ultimately favoring the pass in order to keep pace with Auburn's high-tempo offense. 

Video game numbers —

South Carolina's offense posted at least 500 yards for the third game in a row. Though the Gamecocks accrued 535 yards on 86 plays, they were outmatched by Auburn, with 551 total yards on 62 plays. The difference was the efficiency with which the Tigers moved the ball, averaging nearly nine yards every time they ran a play. Redshirt senior Dylan Thompson  likened the game to the video games he played growing up, mentioning that he felt confident that the offense could score each time they had the ball. Thompson passed for 402 yards, the fifth-highest total by a Gamecock in a single game, and the highest since 1995 when Steve Taneyhill threw for 473 yards against Mississippi State. Thompson's five touchdown passes also tied a South Carolina single-game record.

Winning the turnover battle —

While Thompson put up the offensive numbers necessary for South Carolina to win the game, it was his three interceptions that ultimately doomed the Gamecocks against Auburn. His first interception came when South Carolina was already on top 7-0, and the defense had just forced the Tigers to punt. On the verge of grabbing a 14-0 lead on the road against the No. 5 team  in the nation, Thompson threw a pass straight at Cassanova McKinzy, who returned it one yard to Auburn's eight yard line. His next turnover also came in the red zone when Thompson tossed a second pick in the end zone 18 yards from a score.  The third and final pick is hard to pin on Thompson, as it came on a 45-yard heave as time expired.

Offensive outmatch —

Auburn punted on two of its possessions and fumbled on another one, but despite those three drives, the Tigers scored a touchdown on every single one of its drives. Of the team's six touchdown drives, the shortest one covered 75 yards while also putting together two 90-plus yard drives.  Two of the Tigers' touchdown drives came after an interception, including a 92-yard drive that saw Auburn knot the game at seven in the first quarter.