Secondary Survives

David Irons and Jerraud Powers talk about the struggle against South Carolina.

Columbia, S.C.--In an all too familiar situation, Auburn's defense had its back against the wall and managed to pull out a victory. South Carolina got five yards away from tying the game, but the Tigers escaped as Syvelle Newton's pass to Sidney Rice fell incomplete on the final play of the game.

"That was like the LSU game all over again," says senior cornerback David Irons. "All the defense had to do was pull it out and we knew they were going to go to Sidney Rice on that last play. I had faith in my man Pat Lee. Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. He broke it up."

In the first half Steve Spurrier took advantage of a mismatch in the slot as Kenny McKinley had career-high six catches for a career-high 91 yards by halftime.

"I think Spurrier spotted out a few weaknesses at this point of our defense," cornerback Jerraud Powers says. "He kept going at it the whole game. They had a great scheme versus us. We didn't make plays and they did. That's again compliments to their offense and Spurrier."

In the second half Auburn made a switch a nickelback bringing in Powers instead of Zach Gilbert, but Spurrier countered with five wide. In what turned out to be a strange second half of football with South Carolina running zero plays in the third quarter and Auburn running three in the fourth, the Gamecocks had their way with Auburn's defense in fourth quarter.

"We didn't make too many major adjustments (at halftime)," Powers says. "They showed the empty (backfield) a lot and we a pretty idea with Spurrier's history of doing that. We made a few adjustments to the empty. It was a matter of making plays for the most part. They've got some pretty good guys and a pretty good scheme on us."

Down 24-10, the Gamecocks' first drive of the second half went 93 yards on 15 plays ending on a pass to Jared Cook wide open down the middle of the field.

"When they scored we had a busted coverage," Powers notes. "That was just us playing sloppy more than them executing."

South Carolina ran just three plays that drive that weren't Newton passes or rushes. Getting the ball back with 5:24 to play down seven, the next drive was exclusively Newton.

Irons finished with a game high of 10 tackles.

Cook had the opportunity for another score from the 34-yard line on a designed play to attack the Auburn safeties. Newton pump faked to a wide receiver screen pass that Eric Brock bit on. Cook was open in the end zone, Newton hit him in stride but Cook dropped the football.

The Gamecocks got down to the Auburn five-yard line facing a fourth and one, but Lee broke up the pass to seal the win.

"We go into every SEC game expecting a close one, especially on the road," Powers says. "Every SEC team is pretty good, so it wasn't a big shock to us that it was a close game. We knew what we were getting ourselves into so we just had to step up to the challenge."

Auburn improved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in conference play. South Carolina dropped to 3-2, 1-2.

"They fought us hard," Irons says. "That was the toughest they've played this season. They gave it to us. There wasn't any lacking on our part--they just gave it to us. They're a good team.

"Everybody is going to give us our best," he adds. "We're the No. 2 team in the nation. There's not one team that's not going to try their best. Buffalo tried, everybody is going to try. We've got to give it a fight all game. I'm proud of our defense, I'm proud of our offense and we just fought all game."

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