Freshman Bryson Allen-Williams will finish the season as a defensive end after playing the first seven games at linebacker, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said Thursday.
Allen-Williams, who has 10 tackles this season, is expected to see playing time at his new position against the Tigers.
Junior Darius English “probably” will start at defensive end, Ward said, although David Johnson also could get the opportunity, Ward said. English has 19 tackles and a sack this season. He was replaced by walk-on Michael Washington against Furman.
Friendship on hold
The close friendship between Ward and Ellis Johnson will have no impact on Saturday’s game, Ward said.
“I promise you I haven’t even thought about it,” Ward said. “It’s just business. You are always going to face some people you coach with or your friends with. The bottom line in this game is winning, and we are going down there to try to win.”
Spurrier has not asked Ward for any hints about how Johnson might defend the Gamecocks, Ward said.
“Not one question,” Ward said. “Coach knows Ellis just as well as I do.”
After getting three turnovers against Furman, South Carolina is hopeful it can continue to improve its turnover margin, which is 10th in the SEC (minus-2). The defense forced “four or five” in each practice this week, Ward said.
“The things you do in practice are the things you do in a ball game so hopefully we get some turnovers,” he said. “We are going to have to get turnovers if we’re going to win this ball game.”
Preparing to win
South Carolina will be looking for its 13th win all-time against an Associated Press top 10 team when it faces No. 5 Auburn on Saturday.
Five of those wins have come under Steve Spurrier.
“We are preparing this week to win the game,” quarterback Dylan Thompson said. “We are excited about the opportunity to play in a big game. I don’t think a lot of our guys even know what’s going on outside of here, which is good and bad sometimes. We believe we can go in there and win, and that’s all that matters.”
The Gamecocks (4-3), who beat No. 6 Georgia earlier this season, have four wins over teams ranked in the top five since 2009 (No. 4 Ole Miss in 2009, No. 1 Alabama in 2010, No. 5 Georgia in 2012 and No. 5 Missouri in 2013).
“You’ve got to believe you’ve got a chance if your team plays very well,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “We’re going with the idea that we’re going to get into battle with them. We know we’ve got to play very well, offensively, defensively and on special teams. Hopefully, they will drop the ball a little bit, or something good like that will happen for us. The only pressure on us is play the best we can, play the best we can, try to coach the best we can and see what happens.”
Big and loud
Considering Florida’s 89,000-seat stadium probably won’t be close to full by the time South Carolina travels there later this season and Clemson’s Memorial Stadium holds just more than 80,000, Saturday probably will be the largest crowd the Gamecocks will play in front of this season.
“Auburn is going to be loud, and they are going to be excited as they should be,” Thompson said. “We always prepare about the same way, just going through practice, knowing it is going to be loud so kind of exaggerating everything.”
The Gamecocks do not play loud music or fight songs before road games like some SEC teams.
“We get a lot of noise off Bluff Road sometimes with cars passing by,” Thompson joked.
South Carolina’s offense prepares for their anticipated difficulty communicating by whispering play calls and exaggerating hand motions during practice, Thompson said.
“We’ve been in loud places before,” Thompson said. “Getting plays in fast is something that is important, giving you time to go communicate with everybody.”
-- T.J. Gurley and Chris Moody will start at the safety spots. D.J. Smith will play.
-- Bruce Ellington attended practice.
-- The Gamecocks will wear white jerseys and garnet pants on Saturday.
Defensive tackle J.T. Surratt (hamstring) and linebacker Jonathan Walton (concussion) will play against Auburn, although they may not start. DE Mason Harris (knee) is unlikely to play.
Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: Harris, RG Cody Waldrop (right knee), TE Rory Anderson (left tricep), DE Blake McClain (concussion), TE K.C. Crosby (undisclosed), DE Cedrick Cooper (ankle), OL Donell Stanley (left wrist), TE Jacob August (undisclosed) and CB Jamari Smith (left foot).