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Offensive Woes Drag Tigers Down

Oct 3, 2020; Columbia, SC, USA; Seth Williams (18) catches the ball during the game between Auburn and South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics
Oct 3, 2020; Columbia, SC, USA; Seth Williams (18) catches the ball during the game between Auburn and South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

  

Coming into Saturday’s matchup Auburn had won every matchup with South Carolina since 1933, including each meeting since the SEC expanded to 12 teams in 1992 by adding South Carolina and Arkansas. After scoring 21 points off of turnovers, the Gamecocks ended that streak with a 30-22 victory.

Auburn’s offense started the game off relatively well. 7 different receivers caught a pass in the first quarter, the most by Auburn against an SEC team since facing Florida back in 2000. Nix looked composed and the offense was getting down the field. But early in the second quarter, Nix threw his first of three interceptions on the day.

The offense repeatedly failed to reach the end zone after that, settling for 3 points time and time again. In the fourth quarter with time winding down, the Tigers gained 68 yards on 3 plays by way of Tank Bigsby and Ze’Vian Capers. They would then gain a total of 2 yards on the next 3 plays inside South Carolina’s 10-yard line and kick a field goal.

Nix’s troubles on the road are nothing new. He threw 3 interceptions in 2019 at the Swamp against Florida. He also threw one at LSU in 2019 and 1 at Georgia two weeks ago. He has yet to throw an interception in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Head coach Gus Malzahn admitted that “the turnovers were big.” Auburn has for the most part protected the football very well in the previous three games this season.

It didn’t help that Auburn couldn’t take advantage of their #1 receiver. Seth Williams was locked down for virtually the entire game. He was able to show off his talent on a jump-ball catch that gained 44 yards, but aside from that play, South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn left him largely ineffective. Horn also reeled in two of Nix’s interceptions. Williams finished the game with 74 yards on 4 receptions.

There were a few other options in the passing game that had more success than Williams. Anthony Schwartz caught 6 passes for a respectable 59 yards, while senior receiver Eli Stove caught a team-leading 7 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown, his second of the season.

“We had a lot of minor mistakes that we need to clean up and fix,” said Stove when asked about the game. He also praised Bo Nix’s fight late in the game. “He can compete to the last second… He wants to win.”

Tank Bigsby was a bright spot on offense, following up on a record-breaking performance against Arkansas with 111 yards on 16 carries. He also scored his first touchdown as a Tiger.

“He ran extremely hard again this week,” said Malzahn after the game, “He broke tackles, ran with an attitude. He did a really good job.”

“I think he’s been doing real good, since the Georgia game, really,” Stove said on Bigsby. Bigsby ran for 31 yards in that game but racked up 68 receiving yards, showing how he can be a threat on the ground and through the air as he becomes more and more of a focal point in the offense.

Bo Nix also netted 69 yards on 15 carries, including a few critical scrambles on the final drive of the game. On one run, he attempted to hurdle a South Carolina defender and get a first down but was hit hard and knocked out of bounds. “Most quarterbacks won’t do that,” said Stove.

“It’s real frustrating, but really, I see potential… we just need to execute. Details is what it all comes down to.”

Auburn will hit the road again next weekend to play an upstart Ole Miss team in Oxford. The Rebels go into their game at Arkansas this week with a 1-2 record.

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