Defense prepares for Auburn

Tenth-ranked South Carolina will host Auburn Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks began preparing for a Tiger offense that still puts up big numbers despite the absence of 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.

When the Auburn Tigers trot out onto the field at Williams-Brice Stadium, there will be no #2. That #2 is now wearing #1 for the Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton is in the NFL, Barrett Trotter is now the quarterback for the defending National Champion Tigers.

While certainly no Newton, Trotter has been effective for Auburn this season. While certainly not the threat to run the ball like Newton, Trotter has put up good numbers in the passing game. Trotter has completed 61-of-99 passes for 783 yards and eight touchdowns with just three interceptions.

The running back tandem of Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb have provided a one-two punch running the ball. Dyer is averaging over 100 yards per game on the ground and has scored six touchdowns, and McCalebb is averaging over 40 yards per game on the ground. McCalebb has proven to be a threat catching the ball out of the backfield, catching 12 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown.

"The quarterback is not running the ball as much as last year, but it's the same players," defensive line coach Brad Lawing said. "#23 (McCalebb) and #5 (Dyer), you've got to stop those guys or you're not going to have a chance."

Up front, the Tigers are still breaking in a fairly new line. They return two seniors at tackle in A.J. Greene, who is coming off a knee injury in 2010, and Brandon Mosley. Greene is still fairly inexperienced after playing in just two games in 2009 and suffering the career-ending injury against Clemson last season in the third game of the season. Mosley has the most experience on the line, playing in all 14 games last season and starting the final 11 games after transferring in from JUCO.

Jared Cooper starts at guard as a senior, but has played primarily as a special teams player, and John Sullen is a junior that only had one start in his career entering the season. Add that in with a true freshman center and the Tiger offensive line could have some problems with the Carolina defensive line.

"They've gotten progressively better every week," Lawing said. "They have two guys that played a lot last year and started. They've had to replace some guys – they have a true freshman center and a redshirt freshman at one guard. You've seen them get better so far."

Overall, Auburn has put up some nice offensive numbers. The Tigers are averaging 374 yards per game and 34 points per game. Trotter will challenge a Gamecock secondary that is still trying to find its way after a dominating effort in last week's 21-3 win over Vanderbilt.

"Auburn does a lot of formations and they have a lot of speed on the field," defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. "They're young in a lot of positions but they play up-tempo. If we handle the up-tempo and get lined up and not turn guys free and give up big plays then we have a chance. We're still trying to find out our identity and Saturday was just a start. If we go out and not do well against Auburn then we're back and square zero."

Notes

Brison Williams returned to practice Monday and could play Saturday if Ward and safety coach Jeep Hunter thinks he's ready. He will back up DeVonte Holloman at boundary safety.


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