Last year Black Mitchell was injured and Syvelle Newton was at receiver, so Antonio Heffner got the start and the offense was out of sync all night as Auburn won the game handily. South Carolina had just 199 yards offense.
Newton caught five passes for 29 yards that night, but his year he will be the starting quarterback with Blake Mitchell battling injuries/arrests/inconsistency and Heffner playing this year at Tennessee State.
"The difference is the guy this year has had the opportunity to get a couple of games under his belt," Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville says of Newton. "Last year the quarterback that played against us was thrown in there very quickly. You could tell that he didn't get off to a good start and it affected the entire team. This year will be a little different. Steve (Spurrier) has had the opportunity to work with him and he's got his other quarterback back. I'm sure we'll see several different things from both quarterbacks. We'll probably see both quarterbacks and we'll prepare for that."
Newton got the start on Saturday against Florida Atlantic and put up unreal numbers--13 of 20 for 216 yards, fives touchdowns all to Sidney Rice without an interception. All five of Rice's touchdowns came in the first 32 minutes of the game.
"I don't think you shut a Sidney Rice down," Tuberville says. "He's one of the better receivers in our league and maybe in the country. Steve does a good job of trying to get him the ball. He's a big-play guy, he's a big receiver and he can run. I noticed last night that he made some big catches that (defenders) could have caught, but he jumped up and made the catch.
"We'll have to pay special attention to him," Tuberville adds. "He's a guy that can win ball games. He's very dangerous and we've watched all of the film. We'll do a lot of talking about him this week in scouting reports. It'll be a challenge for our corners and safeties."
Rice catches a pass in South Carolina's 16-15 win in Neyland Stadium last year.
Rice had the only Gamecock touchdown against Auburn last season on a 45-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Playing their second road game and first in front of a large crowd, Tuberville says that it'll be much more of a challenging football game with the short week and the crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium.
"Last year we had a pretty easy time," he notes. "As I told the team, we're going to get their best shot. They've had two-warm-up games to get ready for us and this is their third home game. We've had to play quite a bit of ball (with the starters) the last few weeks. We've got to regroup and play one of the better games we've played.
"It's all about communication, going and taking care of your own business, executing and playing fundamentals," he adds about playing in front of a capacity 80,250. "It is a tough place to play. My first game in 1986 coaching at the University of Miami we opened up the season there and had a pretty good football team with Vinny Testaverde, Michael Irvin and those guys. I was impressed with the environment. It's a nice stadium, the fans do a great job, it's a true Southern football stadium and it will be a home-field advantage for them."
Led by tailback Cory Boyd and Mike Davis, the Gamecocks are averaging 120.2 yards on the ground, which is ninth in the SEC. Overall they are averaging 345.5 yards per game, which is good for seventh in the league.
South Carolina enters the game with a 3-1 overall record and is 1-1 in the SEC.