This season that was even more important with a new quarterback under center in Brandon Cox. Saturday night that defensive approach continued as South Carolina stacked the line of scrimmage and Auburn responded by making big plays in the passing game.
Two of those went to senior Anthony Mix. Not a big part of the offense early in the season as the Tigers looked to improve the running game to take pressure off the sophomore quarterback, Mix caught two passes for 47 yards in the 48-7 victory and he says it was an important win for the Tigers as they prepare to head on the road for the first time this season.
"This is a huge SEC win," Mix says. "We came out and knew they would be ready to play us. They had lost two conference games so we knew they would be ready to play. We had to come out and play hard and that's what we did. We came out with a huge win.
"We knew they were going to come in and try to stop the run," Mix notes. "That is every SEC opponent. You know you have to run the ball and when the defense thinks you have to run the ball to win the game they're going to come in trying to stop the run. We knew we would have to make some plays and that's what we did. Whenever they call any of the receivers we always make the big catch."
Mix looks for the goal line during the win over South Carolina.
On the first drive the catches came from the backfield as running back Kenny Irons caught passes for 14, five and 14 yards as the Tigers drove 50 yards in eight plays to take the early lead. Mix says that scoring on the first drive is always important for an offense because it establishes early momentum for the unit and says something to the defense.
"That always sets the tone," Mix says. "We know we have to come out and set the tone. That's the case with any offense. If you come out and set the tone and let the defense know that you're going to play the whole game that always starts with the first play. You can't come out flat. You can't let the defense get momentum. That's what we did. We got the momentum and kept it rolling."
Mix had his chance at glory later in the game. With a 31-0 lead in the third quarter the Tigers went hunting for more points, starting a drive at their own 35-yard line. The Tigers got to the South Carolina 30 when they faced a third and 10. Catching a pass from Cox, Mix turned and twisted for extra yards, finally going down at the three-yard line. The Tigers scored two plays later to add on to the lead, but Mix says he did everything he could to get into the end zone.
"I tried real hard," Mix says. "Everybody was telling me I could have scored if I wouldn't have cut back inside. I didn't really see it though."
Last season Auburn's offense didn't hit high gear until its victory at Tennessee. In that performance the Tigers scored 31 first-half points on the way to a 34-10 victory. If the Tigers go on to have another run at the SEC Championship, Mix says you can likely look back to Auburn's win over the Gamecocks as the coming out party for the 2005 team.
"It's about the same thing," he says. "We talked about it after the last game. We didn't really get things going until the fifth game last year. Against South Carolina it looked like we were hitting on all cylinders. We still made some little mistakes. We scored a lot of points, but we made mistakes that we can correct and make our offense better. Now that we're clicking we have the team to do that."