Gus Malzahn narrows the Auburn quarterback race
ByBRANDON MARCELLO 27 minutes ago
DOTHAN, Alabama — It's finally official: it's a two-man race to be Auburn's starting quarterback.
Joey Gatewood and Bo Nix are 1 and 1A Coach Gus Malzahn said on Wednesday before a booster club event in Dothan.
Auburn is siding with the new blood over a 24-year-old redshirt freshman and a junior with two years of service as Jarrett Stidham's top backup.
Nix and Gatewood are both dual-threat quarterbacks, with much different statures and styles. Nix is a pocket passer, but can run zone-read plays to the outside much like previous starter Stidham. The difference? Nix is faster, though no one will confuse his quickness for that of former Auburn speedster Nick Marshall.
Gatewood (6-5, 233) is one of the taller and thickest quarterbacks the Tigers have had on the roster since legend Cam Newton. He fits into the inside-zone scheme, and provided a glimpse of what's possible in his first collegiate action in Auburn's 63-14 victory against Purdue in the Music City Bowl. He nearly scored on a 20-yard run.
Sources told Auburn Undercover the battle between Nix and Gatewood was a dead heat entering summer workouts. They both had their highlight-reel moments at the A-Day spring game April 13.
Gatewood threw for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 8 of 12 passing at the A-Day game, which included seven completions, 123 yards and two scores in the first half. He rushed only once for 1 yards because of tackling restrictions placed on the quarterbacks.
Nix threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 11 of 17 passing, but also threw an interception in the second half.
But coaches already know what both Nix and Gatewood can do when allowed to run. Defensive players were allowed to tackle the quarterbacks during the first spring scrimmage behind closed doors. Gatewood was especially impressive when allowed to run.
"When you let him go live, there’s a big difference," Malzahn said after the spring game.
Gatewood arrived at Auburn with incredible numbers, even though he shared playing time at Bartram Trail in St. Augustine, Florida as a senior in high school. He still managed to pass for 1,468 yards and 12 touchdowns while also running for 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns.
"I’m telling you," Auburn receiver Seth Williams said after the A-Day game. "He’s another Cam Newton back there. Once he gets live, he turns into a whole other person. Like, you couldn’t see it for real with this spring, with the scrimmage, the QBs not live —but once they’re live, I don’t think, [the defense] can’t get back there."
Nix broke numerous records while leading Pinson Valley High to back-to-back state titles with his father, Auburn legend Patrick Nix, as the head coach. He had more than 12,000 total yards of offense in his career and recorded 161 total touchdowns, including 127 scores through the air. He earned practically every in-state award you can imagine while also earning a 5-star rating from the 247Sports Composite.