South Carolina is heading into a low-risk, high-reward week, its coach said Sunday.
“We’re loose,” Steve Spurrier said. “There is no pressure on us except to go to Auburn and try to see if we can pull an upset.”
The Gamecocks are 4-3 and unranked after Saturday’s 41-10 win against Furman. The No. 5 Tigers are 5-1 and coming off a bye week.
“Gus Malzahn is definitely one of the best coaches in the country,” Spurrier said. “It’ll be a big challenge.”
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South Carolina is 1-9-1 against Auburn all-time, with that one win coming in 1933. The Gamecocks have lost seven straight since that game, including five under Spurrier.
“They have just beat us,” Spurrier said by way of explanation for the losing streak. “I don’t know. It just hasn’t worked out that we have been able to beat Auburn since I have been here.”
The Tigers only loss this season came to No. 1 Mississippi State.
“I’m glad we are not playing the Mississippi schools this year,” Spurrier said. “In fact, I don’t know who you would want to play on the Western side. Obviously, Texas A&M is struggling now, and they clobbered us.”
The Gamecocks might be loose, but they’re all bruised. Starting defensive tackle J.T. Surratt is doubtful for the Auburn game after suffering a hamstring injury against Furman. He joins backup defensive ends David Johnson (knee, questionable) and Cedrick Cooper (ankle, doubtful) on the defensive line’s injured list.
Tight end Rory Anderson is questionable for Saturday’s game due to a triceps strain.
“He’s on the out list right now, but he was doing better today,” Spurrier said.
Offensive lineman Mike Matulis could start at right guard after missing the first six games of the season with a sprained knee. He played briefly in the second half against Furman.
Spurrier remained unhappy Sunday about his team’s pass protection in a 41-10 win against Furman on Saturday.
“Furman spent some time on us,” Spurrier said. “They had some new blitzes where they got guys running free at us. Looking at the tape, we should have had some different protections on, but give Furman credit, they schemed things up pretty well.”
He was pleased, though, with his defense, which shut out the Paladins in the second half, and Spurrier pointed out the team has moved up to No. 12 in the SEC in total defense (421.3 yards allowed per game).
“Anything is pretty good confidence for us right now because we have struggled,” Spurrier said. “We are out of the bottom of the conference so we’ve made improvement. Hopefully, we can keep climbing, try to get up in the middle of the pack by the end of the year.”