AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) - The banged-up and depth-chart depleted Auburn Tigers narrowly escaped disaster in Jordan-Hare on Saturday, tiptoeing by what many have considered to be a sneaky Arkansas team; however, head coach Gus Malzahn and company did not have the luxury of time to reflect upon the game in any capacity other than the film room.
The Tigers now turn all attention towards this weekend’s trip to Columbia, S.C. where the Gamecocks await their opportunity to snap what is an eight-game losing streak to the Orange and Blue.
In his meeting with the media on Tuesday, Malzahn complimented the Gamecocks on their most recent win — a 41-7 route of Vanderbilt — and mentioned the threat posed by Travaris Robinson’s defense.
“What stands out to me about their defense is they’re one of the top of the country in total defense,” Malzahn said. “They’re first in the league on third-down defense, so that’s going to present some challenges.”
The Gamecock defense is ranked first on third-downs and sixth in total defense amongst the SEC.
The eighth-year head coach did not leave out praise for Mike Bobo’s Gamecock offense, stating that the wide receiver play was “electric,” as well as praise for graduate transfer quarterback Collin Hill.
“I’ve been very impressed with him,” Malzahn said. “He’s a real big guy with a strong arm.”
Hill has completed 69 passes on 110 attempts, thrown for three touchdowns and has only tossed one interception through his first three starts as a Gamecock.
Matchups on paper aside, Malzahn seems to believe that the return of players from injury
— such as Jaylin Simpson and Marco Domio — will likely aid the Tigers on Saturday.
“We have our guys healthy, we feel like we have quality depth,” Malzahn said. “We expect all
of our guys to be back in practice, except K.J. Britt.”
Malzahn added that he would update the media regarding the health of Simpson and Domio following the conclusion of practice this Thursday; however, he is optimistic about their potential to return to the lineup on Saturday.
Both squads have something to prove this weekend, and — even with limited capacity — Williams-Brice Stadium will be rocking with fans who are ready to see their team snap its losing streak against their western conference foes.
Kickoff between the Tigers and the Gamecocks will come at 11 a.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.