Auburn, Ala.--In his limited appearances true freshman Roc Thomas has shown glimpses of an explosive burst that gets Auburn fans excited about the prospect of him earning more playing time. Coaches have hinted his presence on the field will increase.
With senior Cameron Artis-Payne rushing for 167 yards, wide receiver Ricardo Louis adding 102 yards on three jet sweep carries and quarterback Nick Marshall picking up another 89 yards on 10 carries, Thomas did manage eight rushes for 34 yards in Auburn’s back-and-forth 42-35 win over South Carolina on Saturday night.
Thomas was pleased with getting his second most carries of the season behind the nine he had for 51 yards in Auburn’s win over San Jose State in the second game of the season.
“I felt relaxed and tried to come in and do what I do,” he said. “I feel pretty good about how I played. I prepare myself like I going to start the game and am ready when the coaches call my name.”
With South Carolina scoring on almost every possession, the Tigers had to do the same to keep pace.
“When somebody is putting up points like that, we just have to answer back--that was our focus,” he pointed out.
As Auburn travels to Ole Miss for a key SEC West game next Saturday, Thomas is starting to pick up what it takes each week to compete in the SEC.
“I think challenges bring out the best in players and I’m looking forward to preparing in practice for next weekend,” he commented. “I feel more comfortable and getting more reps is helping me out a lot.”
In other news:
•Auburn now leads the series vs. South Carolina 10-1-1 and is 4-0 in all games played at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
•Auburn has now won eight straight games over South Carolina.
•Auburn has outscored South Carolina 344-195 in the series, including 272-146 in the seven meetings since 1996.
•The game was the highest-scoring meeting between the two teams. The 77 total points bested the 73 points from the 2010 SEC Championship Game (Auburn 56, South Carolina 17).
•Gus Malzahn is 18-1 at home as a collegiate head coach (5-1 in 2012 at Arkansas State, 8-0 in 2013 and 5-0 in 2014 at Auburn).
•Auburn is 6-2 after a bye week in Malzahn’s five seasons as either a head coach or offensive coordinator.
•As a college coach Malzahn’s teams are 15-5 after a loss, including a 7-3 mark at Auburn. The Tigers are 5-0 following a loss under Malzahn since 2010.
•Auburn is 16-0 when rushing for 250 or more yards under Malzahn.
•Marshall rushed for 89 yards and is second in Auburn career quarterback rushing with 1,649 yards. Phil Gargis (1973-76) is the school record holder with 1,884 yards rushing.
•With 228 yards of total offense (139 yards passing, 89 yards rushing) on the night, Marshall moved into seventh place on the school’s career list with 4,728 yards of total offense, passing Reggie Slack (1986-89).
•Marshall’s 37-yard rush in the second quarter was the longest run by an Auburn player against South Carolina since Cam Newton had a 54-yard run in the regular-season meeting in 2010. It was then topped by Ricardo Louis’ 75-yard, third quarter run. Since the series resumed in 1996, three of Auburn’s four longest rushes against South Carolina have come from quarterbacks (Newton, Marshall and Barrett Trotter--34 yards-2010 SEC Championship Game).
•Marshall’s second quarter reception from Jonathan Wallace was the second of his career and the first thrown by someone other than himself (37-yard reception on a deflected pass last year vs. Mississippi State).
•With one vs. the Gamecocks, Marshall now has 25 career TD passes and has moved into a tie for 10th place on the Auburn career list with Loran Carter (1966-68). He needs two more to tie Chris Todd (2008-09).
•Marshall threw one touchdown pass and rushed for a career-high three more, making him responsible for 44 touchdowns in his career, passing Bo Jackson (1982-85) for eighth in school history. He is two behind Brandon Cox (2004-07) and Carnell Williams (2001-04) for sixth with 46. It is Marshall’s third career four touchdown game and his seventh game with multiple rushing touchdowns.
•With 14 yards receiving Sammie Coates now has 1,252 yards for his career, 17th all-time at Auburn, passing Thomas Bailey (1991-94).
•Wallace completed a pass to Marshall in the second quarter, which came 364 days after his last completion (Oct. 26, 2013 vs. Florida Atlantic).
•Artis-Payne rushed for 167 yards on 25 carries and scored one rushing touchdown. He now has six on the season and 12 in his Auburn career. He now has seven 100-yard games in his Auburn career.
•Artis-Payne now has 839 yards rushing on the season and 1,441 for his career, which ranks 30th in Auburn history.
•Louis had a 75-yard touchdown run was the longest rush of his career and was the longest rush by an Auburn player this season. He finished with 102 yards on three carries, the first 100-yard rushing game of his career.
•Brandon Fulse scored his first career touchdown on his first reception of the season. Fulse scored on a three-yard pass from Nick Marshall in the first quarter. Fulse finished the game with two receptions, matching his career high. His 24-yard catch in the third quarter was the longest of his career.
•Jonathan Jones’ had two interceptions in the fourth quarter, both coming in the end zone, his second consecutive two-interception game. He now has five interceptions on the season, which is the most by an Auburn player since Walter McFadden finished the 2009 season with six.
•Kris Frost finished the game with a career-high 14 tackles, 11 of which were solo. His previous best was seven, done twice.
*South Carolina is the first Auburn opponent to score a touchdown on its opening drive since Texas A&M last season.
*After returning from a four-game suspension, Jermaine Whitehead wore No. 35 after wearing No. 9 that he has previously worn for the past four seasons. Whitehead did not see any action.
*Auburn and Florida State are the only two teams in the country that rank in the top 15 in both red zone offense and red zone defense.
*After being held scoreless in the first half of the LSU in 2013, Auburn has scored an offensive touchdown in 43 of the last 47 quarters against SEC opponents.