Auburn Football: Previewing South Carolina, By the Numbers

Oct 4, 2014; Lexington, KY, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back D.J. Smith (24) celebrates during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats in the first half at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Auburn football team will host South Carolina at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday in a primetime SEC showdown. The Gamecocks come to town with a 4-3 overall record, and a 2-3 mark in conference play.

As the record would indicate, it’s been an up and down season for Steve Spurrier’s crew. Carolina was blown out 52-28 at home by Texas A&M in the season opener, which snapped an 18-game home winning streak. The team rebounded with wins over East Carolina, Georgia and Vanderbilt, but then dropped two conference games to Missouri and Kentucky, which has seemingly erased any hopes of and SEC championship in Columbia. South Carolina picked up a 41-10 victory over Furman last week.

There has been a collection of good signs (on offense, mainly), plenty of bad (defense, for the most part), and some things that have been downright ugly. To prepare you for Saturday’s contest, we take a closer look at South Carolina, by the numbers.

 

Offense

  • Scoring Offense: 35.1 points per game, ranks ninth in the SEC and 30th nationally.
  • Rushing Offense: 185.4 yards per game ranks 7th in the SEC and 49th nationally.
  • Passing Offense: 265.4 yards per game ranks 4th in the SEC and 40th nationally.
  • Total Offense: 450.9 yards per game ranks 6th in the SEC and 40th nationally.

 

Defense

  • Scoring Defense: 31.4 points allowed per game ranks 13th in the SEC and 91st nationally.
  • Rushing Defense: 181.7 yards allowed per game ranks 13th in the SEC and 90th nationally.
  • Passing Defense: 239.6 yards allowed per game ranks 13th in the SEC and 75th nationally.
  • Total Defense: 421.3 yards allowed per game ranks 12th in the SEC and 80th nationally.

 

The Good:

  • In their last game, a 41-10 win over Furman, South Carolina accumulated a season high 548 yards of total offense. The Gamecocks were very balanced last week against the Paladins with 267 rushing yards and 281 yards through the air.
  • South Carolina ranks second in the SEC in opponent’s tackles for loss. The Gamecocks have allowed just four TFLs per game this season, which ranks 10th nationally.
  • The Gamecocks are second in the SEC with 176 first downs, and lead the league with a 96.4% red zone scoring rate, which is third nationally.
  • After having never done so in the previous 118 years of football history at the school, South Carolina has won eleven games in each of the past three seasons, and finished the season ranked in the top ten by the Associate Press each year.
  • They also have a three-game bowl winning streak for the first time in school history.
  • In terms of letter winners, the Gamecocks entered the 2014 season as the most experienced team in the SEC with 85.3% of experienced players returning on the roster.
  • Steve Spurrier is 81-42 (.659) as the head coach at South Carolina, which makes him the winningest coach in school history. Spurrier’s 223 victories as a collegiate head coach rank second among all active FBS head coaches, behind only Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech.
  • Mike Davis has 2,120 career rushing yards, which currently ranks 14th on the South Carolina all-time list. With 112 rushing yards Saturday, Davis would pass – get this – Mike Davis (2005-08), to become the school’s 13th leading rusher.
  • Kicker Elliott Fry is 12-for-13 on field goal attempts and a perfect 30-for-30 on extra points this season. His only miss was a 54-yard attempt in the season opener, which means Fry has hit 12 field goals in a row.

 

The Bad:

  • South Carolina has lost their last two conference games, to Missouri and Kentucky, respectively.
  • The University of South Carolina has never won a football game at Auburn. The Gamecocks are 0-3 all time on the Plains. Carolina is 1-9-1 against the Tigers in the series, and the only win came in 1933.
  • The Gamecocks have struggled mightily forcing turnovers this season. South Carolina has recovered four fumbles and intercepted four passes in the first seven games. Their eight forced turnovers rank 13th in the SEC and 95th nationally.
  • Opponents have converted 40.2% of third down opportunities against South Carolina so far this season, which is a higher percentage than all but one SEC team.
  • The Gamecocks are minus-2 in turnovers this year, which ranks 10th in the SEC and 84th in the country.
  • South Carolina’s defense has also allowed 156 first downs so far this season, which ranks 12th in the league.
  • Steve Spurrier is 10-8 in his head coaching career against Auburn, but he has lost six in a row to the Tigers including all five meetings since taking over at South Carolina.

 

The Ugly:

  • South Carolina is dead last in the SEC and 124th nationally in opponent’s kickoff returns. The Gamecocks have allowed an average of 28.4 yards per kickoff return this season, including two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the win over Vanderbilt.
  • The Gamecocks are the worst team in the league in both sacks and tackles for loss per game. Carolina has averaged 1.1 sacks per game and 3.3 tackles for loss per contest, which ranks 114th and 123rd nationally, respectively.
  • Perhaps the ugliest number of all: South Carolina began the season ranked in the top ten in the nation, was the favorite to win the SEC East and was considered to be a legitimate national title contender. But through the first half of the season, many have lost faith that this team can compete. Enough so that the Gamecocks opened as a 14-point underdog this week to Auburn, and the number is now up to 18 at most Las Vegas casinos.

 

South Carolina will have opportunities to score points Saturday, and they have the talent not only to keep the game close but to win. However, the Gamecocks will have to play much better on defense against the Tigers than they have so far in 2014 to keep the #AuburnFast offense off the scoreboard. Based on the numbers, that doesn’t appear too likely.