Added Inspiration For Tigers

Senior offensive guard Ben Grubbs talks about playing the Gamecocks.

Auburn, Ala.--If South Carolina goes with the same defensive game plan it used against Auburn last season then it's going to be tough running for Kenny Irons' return trip to Columbia against what Auburn offensive guard Ben Grubbs calls an athletic defensive front.

"They have D-ends that were former linebackers so they can move and they're more agile," Grubbs says. "They're going to do a lot of slanting to try to stop our run game. We just have to have a good game plan for that."

The Gamecocks' top three leading tacklers this season are all linebackers in twin brothers Jasper Brinkley and Casper Brinkley as well as Marvin Sapp. At 3-1 this season with the only loss to Georgia, the Gamecocks are allowing 287 yards per game, but 176.2 of those are on the ground.

Grubbs hopes to open some big holes for Irons and Brad Lester on Thursday.

Even though Auburn and South Carolina didn't play from 1998-2004 and Auburn has only one player from the Palmetto State, there is still added inspiration in this game for the Tigers.

"I knew it was a big game just going off last year when Kenny came in and played," Grubbs notes. "He did great. He's pumped up about it and I just want to play for him. He doesn't have to say anything. We know what it means to him. We have other guys from South Carolina just like Leon Hart. We know what it means to him so we're going to try to get him a win."

It'll also be an important game for Auburn to be at its best because of the national exposure playing on a Thursday night. If the Tigers struggle they could expect to lose some votes because there are so many undefeated teams at this point in the season. However, a breakthrough performance by the offense could be enough to jump Southern Cal and move from third to second in the Harris rankings or coaches poll if the Trojans have a difficult time with Washington State on Saturday.

"Hopefully, this game can give us exposure into the world," Grubbs notes. "We're the only game on TV Thursday night. Everybody is going to be watching to see if we're really that good. Hopefully, we'll be able to show them."

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