COLUMBIA – Current Auburn offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has built a reputation of calling many a run plays.
South Carolina fans know all too well, as he served as the Gamecocks OC last season and the offense producing an 1,100-yard rusher in Kevin Harris.
Needing just inches on fourth down at the Tigers' 35 with a running back rightly named "Tank" and a 6-foot-7, 250-pound quarterback, Bobo decided on a playaction pass. The Gamecocks sniffed out the plan and T.J. Finley's pass sailed and fell incomplete.
Six plays later, USC found the end zone with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Jason Brown to offensive guard turned fullback Trai Jones that tied the game, 14-14, with seconds left before halftime.
South Carolina (6-5, 3-5) went on to score another touchdown in the third, Brown's third scoring strike of the game, and hold on for the thrilling 21-17 victory against Auburn (6-5, 3-4) inside Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday night.
Making matters of beating their former OC who bolted for the Plains that much sweeter, the win secured a bowl big for the Gamecocks, their first since 2018.
The fourth-and-inches decision was a head-scratcher. At that point, Auburn had rushed for 84 yards and had averaged more than 5 yards per carry.
After that failed attempt, USC limited the Tigers, including standout tailback Tank Bigsby, to 107 yards the rest of the game.
South Carolina senior running back ZaQuandre White, meanwhile, exploded for 99 yards on the ground and 168 total yards, including a 28-yard touchdown catch. The Gamecocks eclipsed 150 yards rushing, just the third time they've hit that mark.
South Carolina fullback Trai Jones' first offensive touch goes for 6
Let's talk more about that Jones touchdown catch.
The 6-3, 305-pounder is a right guard on the offensive line by trade. He still practices there and get more reps at that position than fullback. He told media members last week that Satterfield had a couple of runs in the package for him. But he didn't mention anything about a route and a pass.
On the play, Jones looked like a seasoned fullback vet, crashed toward the line first befeore sprinting out into the flat behind Nick Muse that gave him plenty of space to work with. Jones effortless hauled in the pass from Brown.
South Carolina cornerback depth answers big test
Cam Smith exited the game late in the first quarter, favoring his right leg.
His absence, especially against a speedy and talented Auburn receiving corps, was going to be the latest test in where the Gamecocks defensive backfield sat in terms of depth.
Credit Marcellas Dial. He's been ridiculed so far this season, had given up some big plays. But against the Tigers Saturday, he looked poised. Dial recorded X tackles and a big pass breakup in the third quarter. While not at corner, but Carlins Platel came up big for USC's secondary as well.
Opposite Smith, Darius Rush had the game of his life against the Tigers with two pass breakups himself.
USC scores first TD vs. Auburn on variant of play it ran against Missouri
South Carolina offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield have frequently talked about finding things that have worked for his offense in the past and reusing plays, concepts, personnel packages, etc.
The offense's first touchdown against Auburn, a 28-yard catch and run from running back ZaQuandre White was a close variation of the play White scored on in the fourth quarter at Missouri last week where he leaked out of the backfield in a single-back set, slipping out backside for a wide open catch-and-run.
This time, Satterfield incorporated the services of Juju McDowell to form a two-back formation, sent presnap motion to both sides and had White slip out the backside, running wide open for the eventual score.
South Carolina lands a bowl game
The Gamecocks are going bowling. For the first time since 2018, USC has won six games and clinched a bowl berth. Birmingham Bowl has been a popular prediction for South Carolina should it reach eligibility. We'll know in a couple of weeks where the Gamecocks will play.
Cory Diaz covers the South Carolina Gamecocks for The Greenville News as part of the USA Today Network. Follow his work for all things Gamecocks on Twitter: @CoryDiaz_TGN
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Takeaways from South Carolina football's win against Auburn