The Daily Gamecock

Preview: Collin Hill says offense 'must continue to spread the ball around' ahead of Auburn matchup

The South Carolina Gamecocks host the Auburn Tigers this Saturday after coming off a 41-7 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores. This gave the Gamecocks their first win of the season following two straight losses. 

The Tigers enter the contest sporting a 2-1 record. The offense features a dual-threat sophomore quarterback in Bo Nix, who Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp said is a "great competitor." 

Nix has thrown for 597 yards and four touchdowns in the first three games, managing to only throw one interception during that time. He also has 72 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Muschamp said Auburn has done a good job at taking "advantage of his athleticism" and he knows that keeping Nix contained will be a key factor for the matchup. Junior cornerback Jaycee Horn said the defense must “contain him and try to keep him in the pocket.” 

Auburn has some talented wide receivers that Horn and the rest of the Gamecock defense will have to deal with as well. Junior Seth Williams leads the team with 216 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Anthony Schwartz has also impressed many this season, accounting for 197 yards and a touchdown. Muschamp said he is “probably the fastest player in college football.”

Auburn's ground attack is young but has performed well in the early portion of the season. Freshman Tank Bigsbee leads the team with 192 rushing yards, followed by sophomore DJ Williams with 92. Its rushing attack has been efficient overall, averaging 4.2 yards per carry.

Auburn's defense is led by junior linebacker Zakoby McClain, who has 18 tackles this year. 

Graduate transfer quarterback Collin Hill said he knows Auburn is “really solid up front,” so winning the line of scrimmage will be important.

The Gamecocks are coming off a game in which sophomore running back Kevin Harris carried the offensive load. The back had a career-high 177 rushing yards, including an 88-yard dash to the endzone, which was the longest of his career.

Redshirt junior center Eric Douglas said whenever Harris has the ball, “he’s going to make [the team] look good.” Muschamp said Harris, “at the end of the day, he’s a really good football player.” 

The passing attack has become more diversified than the first two games, but Hill said he needs to “continue to spread the ball around.”

Senior wide receiver Shi Smith has put up numbers all season, but senior tight end Nick Muse led the team in receiving yards, with 85 in the win over Vanderbilt. 

This was Muse's “biggest game of the year," according to Hill. Muse could prove to be a solid second target alongside Shi Smith if he can build off this performance. 

Muschamp said he sees the need for more development from the Gamecock wideouts and they need to “continue to bring some guys along.” Muse's emergence in the Vanderbilt game could mean he is going to be a big part of that plan.

Douglas said the Gamecocks are still “creating [their] identity” on offense, so it remains to be seen who Muschamp and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo decide to feature against the Tigers.

The first two weeks, Horn said, the defense was “not up to [the team's] standards.” However, the team only surrendered 7 points to Vanderbilt in week three. 

Junior linebacker Ernest Jones has been anchoring the linebackers all season, leading the team with 16 tackles on the season.

Jones and the rest of the defense have forced three turnovers this season, with hopes of adding to that total against the Tigers. 

Kickoff is scheduled for noon at Williams-Brice Stadium and will be televised on ESPN.