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South Carolina quite familiar with Auburn’s TJ Finley, Mike Bobo

South Carolina quite familiar with Auburn’s TJ Finley, Mike Bobo

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South Carolina LSU Football

LSU quarterback TJ Finley (11) throws against South Carolina during the first half of a game on Oct. 24, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La.

When it comes to what the Auburn offense does Saturday against South Carolina, there are two important aspects of the Tigers’ attack that the Gamecocks already have experience with.

South Carolina’s returning players from 2020 should have a good understanding of offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who served in the same role with the Gamecocks last season. Additionally, the Gamecocks’ defenders already know what it’s like to face Auburn quarterback TJ Finley given Finley made his collegiate debut against the Gamecocks in October 2020.

In regards to Finley, South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer explained there are some advantages to having faced the 6-foot-6, 242-pound sophomore before.

“From a physical standpoint, they know what he looks like in person. They know that he can throw the football,” Beamer said Tuesday. “If anything, I think it's just that seeing him out there on the field for the first time won't be the first time they see him. I was at Mississippi State and we played against LSU and JaMarcus Russell, and the guy looks like JaMarcus Russell. I mean, I've never seen him in person, but you turn on the video and you see how big he is.”

The Tigers are hopeful Finley has the kind of success he produced when the true freshman led LSU against South Carolina last fall.

Finley had an excellent debut and was 17-of-21 passing for 265 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in LSU’s 52-24 victory over the Gamecocks. Finley’s performance started what was a disastrous slide for South Carolina, which went on to lose its final five games of the season to end Will Muschamp’s tenure with the team.

Muschamp was fired on Nov. 15, 2020 and replaced on an interim basis by Bobo, who is now in his first season at Auburn. Bobo was in line to be retained by Beamer but ultimately decided to join Harsin's first staff at Auburn.

Beamer said there’s probably some familiarity with what Bobo does for the Gamecocks players but that the advantage provided isn’t a significant one.

Beamer explained he knows about Bobo’s philosophies dating back to when Bobo coached at Georgia and Beamer coached on the defensive side at Mississippi State and South Carolina. The first-year Gamecocks head coach added Auburn’s offense is a blend of what Bobo and head coach Bryan Harsin like to do.

“Mike's a great coach, and at the end of the day it gets down to the players on the field — our 11 and their 11 executing at high levels,” Beamer said. “There's certainly familiarity with things he likes to do and things like that, but that's probably a wash. He knows our personnel as well.”

South Carolina enters this year’s matchup having pulled off a 30-22 upset over Auburn last October in Columbia. Given how much has changed for both teams since then, Beamer didn’t put much stock into that game’s outcome, either.

“There’s not a whole lot you can take from last year's game. That's not just with Auburn; that's been throughout the year,” Beamer said. “I don't think there's a single game, really, where I went back myself — I'm not saying the coordinators haven't — but a game where I went back and watched South Carolina versus whatever opponent from last year. It's definitely not anything I've talked to the team about.”


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