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When South Carolina took advantage of the opportunity Florida presented them a few weeks ago, many of us thought this team might’ve turned the corner. Now, coming off a disappointing loss to Missouri, the Gamecocks will need to take advantage of Auburn’s misfortune if they are going to be playing football in December.
Auburn (6-4, 3-3) will travel to South Carolina (5-5, 2-5) for a 7pm ET kickoff on ESPN. The Tigers are 7.5 point favorites, according to FanDuel.
In news that could’ve been a distraction to the Gamecocks, tt was announced on Tuesday that Virginia Tech was letting go head coach Justin Fuente. This automatically brought up the name Shane Beamer, who we all know has family ties to the Hokies program.
Beamer reaffirmed his commitment to the South Carolina program on Tuesday night, after his name was automatically linked to the job in Blacksburg.
“Obviously, I love Virginia Tech — I moved there when I was 10 years old, went to high school there, went to college there and coached there … my parents still live there,” Beamer said Tuesday. “So I have special memories of my time in Blacksburg and that’ll always be special to me, but this I where I want to be. When I said this (South Carolina) was my dream job, I wasn’t just saying that to make it sound cool in a press conference or to get the job.”
“This is where my wife and I, my family, want to be,” Beamer added. “We didn’t put that sign up at Williams-Brice Stadium that says, ‘Welcome Home,’ just because it was trending in a slogan. This is home for me. I want to be the head football coach here at South Carolina.”
So, now South Carolina turns its attention to stopping the Auburn Tigers.
The Gamecocks gave up over 200 yards rushing to Missouri this past weekend, a formula that won’t keep them in a game versus Auburn this weekend. It wasn’t just Tyler Badie rushing it down their throats, it was the sloppiness on missed tackles that Shane Beamer was upset with, though he did put it on himself.
“Just sloppy football,” Beamer said. “I thought we had a really good week of practice and the mindset was really good throughout the week. We looked like a good team at times, and at times like we had been patting ourselves on the back all week. That is disappointing and it starts with me. Missed tackles on defense, couple of busts assignment-wise. … Just not very clean. That starts with me.
“I know our guys will fight,” Beamer added. “They showed that throughout the game and never flinched. They always thought they were going to win that football game.”
But now comes a different week, against a team that say its starting quarterback go down with a broken ankle, as Auburn QB Bo Nix had surgery this week. The Tigers will end up starting former LSU QB T.J. Finley, who has seen some action this season. It should be pretty obvious early on in this game what the Tigers plan on offense will be, whether that’s running the football with Tank Bigsby or letting Finley sling the football around. But for the Gamecocks, how they respond on offense will be key.
It was noticeable that QB Jason Brown struggled at times reading the Tigers secondary coverage, as he finished the day 16/30 for 193 yards and 2 TD’s, along with an interception. But the offensive line has to be better this weekend against Auburn, especially when Shane Beamer tried to throw in a few different schemes against Missouri that didn’t pay off, especially in the run game.
“We should have been able to run the ball better against them, and that is disappointing,” Beamer said. “We tried some different schemes and it wasn’t good enough. But I do feel we tried to attack them with the running game.”
Auburn ranks 62nd in the country in total defense, giving up 5.29 yards per play and rank 37th in rushing defense, only giving up 130 yards per game. So, something will have to give against South Carolina. It was pretty apparent against Missouri that Shane Beamer tried many different ways to catch them off-guard, especially having Brown roll out of the pocket and try to make plays on the run. This won’t work against Auburn, so getting creative will be key for South Carolina, almost the same way they beat Florida. The Gamecocks rushed for 284 yards against the Florida defense, who we all thought would be better on the defensive front. So getting that type of push upfront will dictate how this game plays out in Columbia.
The big component to this game will be South Carolina trying to become bowl eligible, especially with Clemson still on the schedule. So it’s not as if this team has nothing to play for, which is why they should throw the book at Auburn and see what sticks. Also, how does this Bryan Harsin led team respond from giving up a 28-3 lead last weekend to Mississippi State, which the Bulldogs scored 40 unanswered points in the in. An outcome like that is hard to forget, and don’t think Shane Beamer hasn’t looked at that tape and saw every single busted coverage the Tigers gave up.
On a weekend that’s filled with way too many “Cupcake Games”, this one has an opportunity to stand out. But that’s only if South Carolina can muster up a rushing attack to take some of the weight off QB Jason Brown’s shoulders.
Either way, the Gamecocks are pushing to make a bowl game in Beamer’s first season at the helm in Columbia and this weekend could provide the perfect opportunity to clinch.