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Gamecocks' improving offense set for test vs No. 15 Auburn

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COLUMBIA — South Carolina quarterback Collin Hill sees his offense getting better. Hill and the Gamecocks will get the chance to show how improved they are against No. 15 Auburn.

Hill is the graduate transfer who followed his former coach, first-year Gamecocks offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, to South Carolina. Early on, Hill recalls, the transition was not smooth.

“This summer, we couldn't get lined up sometimes,” Hill said. “We've come a long way, but we're not where we want to be. I think we just have to continue to work.”

The Gamecocks (1-2 Southeastern Conference) must take another step forward Saturday (noon, ESPN) if they hope to keep up with No. 15 Auburn (2-1), their third ranked opponent in four games.

South Carolina pulled away in the second half to put away Vanderbilt 41-7 last week as tailback Kevin Harris ran for 171 yards including an 88-yard touchdown run. It was Harris' second straight game with 100-plus yards.

The Gamecocks have also excelled at the passing game. Shi Smith had 22 catches in losses to ranked opponents in Tennessee and Florida until Vanderbilt limited him to four receptions a week ago. Still, Smith is a surprising third in the SEC at nearly nine catches a game.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has schemed against and for Bobo teams in the past since Bobo spent years as Georgia's offensive coordinator before moving to Colorado State.

Malzahn said Bobo “does a good job of scheming up the run game which, I've said before in this league, you've to be able to run it and throw it. So you look at his grad transfer quarterback, you can tell he's been with him. You can tell he's comfortable.”

The Gamecocks, near the bottom of several SEC offensive categories last season, are sixth in scoring and rushing yards.

Big-time Bigsby

Auburn freshman Tank Bigsby had an impressive performance in the 30-28 win over Arkansas last week. Bigsby had 268 all-purpose yards, the first Tiger to top the 250 mark in that category since Tre Mason in 2013. Bigsby finished with 146 yards rushing, 106 in kickoff returns and 16 in receiving.

Been a while

Auburn has not played at South Carolina since 2011 when the unranked Tigers upset the 10th-ranked Gamecocks and coach Steve Spurrier, 16-13. Auburn has an eight game winning streak in the series with South Carolina's only victory coming in 1933.

Hey, aren't you...

Auburn offensive coordinator Chad Morris returns to Williams-Brice Stadium for the first time since filled the same role for South Carolina's rival Clemson from 2011-14. Clemson and Morris lost both trips to South Carolina, part of a five-in-row unprecedented win streak for the Gamecocks in the rivalry.

Barton boost

Auburn got a boost from walk-on linebacker Barton Lester in the 30-28 win over Arkansas last week. Lester fell on the football in the end zone after Jordyn Peters blocked the Razorbacks' punt to start Auburn's scoring. Malzahn said he, like Lester, was a walk on player.

“What's really stood out to me about him is just he does anything we ask him to do,” the coach said.

Loudest voice

South Carolina defensive back Shilo Sanders says Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp gets loud – but not nearly has loud as his Pro Football Hall of Fame father Deion Sanders. The younger Sanders was coached by his dad in the past and said when he wants to get a message across, he's got the voice and projection to make you hear it, no matter where you are on the field.

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