"We are treating Sunday like a Tuesday and we are putting our game plan in for South Carolina," Will Herring says.
The fifth-year senior linebacker and the rest of his teammates got a bit of a head start preparing for the Gamecocks. Auburn's coaches worked on getting ready for this game in preseason and spent part of last week's practice time prior to the Buffalo game getting ready for their third Southeastern Conference game of the season.
After defeating the Buffalo Bulls 38-7 to improve to 4-0 overall, the Tigers will take on a South Carolina team that had no problem with winless Florida Atlantic, a team the Gamecocks pummeled 45-6 on Saturday night to improve to 3-1.
Will Herring started at free safety last year vs. the Gamecocks. This year he will be at strongside linebacker.
Like many of his teammates, Herring says that he wasn't pleased with how the Tigers played in game four. "They didn't really do anything to surprise us," he says of the Bulls. "They put that running back (freshman James Starks) at quarterback some and hurt us on that with him running the option. We just had to keep fighting because they came to play."
Starks was the big offensive threat for the Bulls. He gained 66 yards on 20 carries and caught three passes for 10 more yards.
Herring says there were some positives for the defense like getting fellow senior linebacker Kevin Sears on the field for the first time this season. He was back after being suspended.
"We have definitely missed Kevin," Herring says. "We missed his leadership on the field and he is a player who is a big impact player on our defense. It was good having him back out there.
"It was also nice to see some of the young guys come in and play well on defense," Herring adds. "I know Trahan (Herring's backup Patrick Trahan) came in and played real good football."
Herring and the Tigers will be looking to stop a South Carolina offense that featured Syvelle Newton at quarterback. He played ahead of former starter Blake Mitchell, who saw mop up duty vs. Florida Atlantic.
Newton had the hot hand vs. the Owls and helped Sidney Rice set a school record with five receiving touchdowns vs. Florida Atlantic, an opponent which hasn't been competitive this season.
Gamecock coach Spurrier says that Rice could have probably scored a couple more TDs if he had played the Gamecock star the entire game. "We let everybody play," he says. "I wish some of our backup kids had played a little bit better, but that is the way it is. Florida Atlantic is a struggling team. They are not quite ready to play SEC teams."
In last year's game vs. South Carolina, Auburn jumped on the Gamecocks early with 17 first half points and led 31-0 at halftime. AU coasted in the second half on the way to a 48-7 victory.
This year's game will be televised by ESPN at 6:30 p.m. CDT on Thursday night from Columbia.