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ESPN Says Auburn most Interesting QB Battle for 2019

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Auburn tops ESPN's list of QB battles to watch

ByAUSTIN NIVISON 
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With Jarrett Stidham leaving for the NFL after the 2018 season, perhaps the best word to describe the Auburn quarterback room is inexperienced.

Gus Malzahn will have a quarterback battle on his hands this spring — and most likely into the fall — but he doesn’t have a lack of options. With a handful of players who will get a look to varying degrees, the Tigers will be one of the more fun teams to watch at the quarterback position in spring practice. On Monday, ESPN released a list of quarterback competitions to watch in spring practice, and Auburn’s topped it.

What makes this competition so intriguing is the lack of college football experience that exists amongst basically every candidate for the job. Malik Willis, a rising junior, has thrown the most passes at the college level with 14. Redshirt freshmen Joey Gatewood and Cord Sandberg have each attempted one pass. The difference between those two players is that Sandberg, who spent several years in minor league baseball with the Philadelphia Phillies, is 24 years old.

The player in this competition who has Auburn fans the most excited is the one who hasn’t thrown a pass at all. Bo Nix was a five-star recruit and the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 signing class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Nix is an Alabama high school football legend, and his father played at Auburn too. With Nix in the mix for the job, ESPN’s Chris Low is anxious to see how the quarterback position shakes out on The Plains.

“But with Stidham headed to the NFL and Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant opting for Missouri over Auburn, the Tigers could be looking at the possibility of a true freshman starting in 2019,” Low writes. “Bo Nix, the son of former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix, is already on campus. His accuracy and athleticism give him a real chance to win the job. He finished with 12,497 yards of total offense during his high school career and accounted for 161 touchdowns, both Alabama high school state records. Rising junior Malik Willis has thrown just 14 passes over the past two seasons, but at least has some game experience at the collegiate level. Joey Gatewood is a 6-foot-5, 237-pound redshirt freshman who needs to develop as a passer, and the player with the most interesting backstory in the race is 24-year-old redshirt freshman Cord Sandberg.”

The battle to become Auburn football’s next starting quarterback begins when the Tigers open spring practice on March 18. The players will get to show what they have in a game setting in the spring game on April 13. Can one of these players pull away from the rest of the pack or will this competition rage on right up until Week 1 of the regular season?

">247Sports

Edited by doc4aday

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Oh yes let it begin. 

Let the best guy play please. If it is Nix then let him start, so on and so on. I am excited.

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Unfortunately, Auburn is not Mecca for quarterback development. Maybe one of the 4 is talented enough (read Cam Newton) to overcome the coaching deficit that exists and lead our Tigers to the top of the SEC.

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38 minutes ago, Hspoprn said:

Unfortunately, Auburn is not Mecca for quarterback development. Maybe one of the 4 is talented enough (read Cam Newton) to overcome the coaching deficit that exists and lead our Tigers to the top of the SEC.

Maybe Dillingham will be able to erase the coaching deficit in regard to the QBs. 

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I am team anyone but Malik Willis. That would show me we are starting the best QB and not just the veteran. Is that a dick thing to say? Probaly. BUUUUUT  IMO He is the Least talented QB out of the 3 viable candidates on the roster and it would be SUCH a typical safe Gus move to go with the guy with the most "experience". Even though the extent of that experience is just handing the ball off in garbage time mainly.  Give me Joey G or Bo and lets ride. 

Edited by GwillMac6
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32 minutes ago, GwillMac6 said:

Give me Joey G and lets ride. 

FIFY. Good post, FAM!!!!!!

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My preferences:

1. Joey

2. Malik

3. Bo 

its close between the latter two, I just think you’re going to see some very similar concepts between them. Malik gives you better running skills in the trade off, which I know Gus can take advantage of. I don’t know if Gus can take adv of Bo potentially (!!) being a better passer

Reasonable expectations based on it being Gus:

1. Malik

2. Joey 

3. Bo

Joey seems to have all the player’s backing, and allows Gus to run the buck sweep but seeing him run a first time starter against UO in prime time? I’d have to see it to believe it. I don’t think we’ll see much Bo one way or the other unless it’s a disaster case scenario 

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I've watched Bo's videos and I am very impressed with this young man. I especially like his accuracy to throw on the run. Not only that he looks like a pretty stout runner also. I am planning on going to the "A" Day game and will get to see him in action. If Trevor Lawrence can do it so can Bo. However, I do hope the best man wins the job. However if I had to bet money on it I would pick Bo. JMO.

WDE

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21 hours ago, DAG said:

Let the best guy play please

This.  And I hope it's transparently obvious from spring ball and fall practice to the fans, the media, the players, and the coaching staff.

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18 hours ago, GwillMac6 said:

I am team anyone but Malik Willis. That would show me we are starting the best QB and not just the veteran. Is that a dick thing to say? Probaly. BUUUUUT  IMO He is the Least talented QB out of the 3 viable candidates on the roster and it would be SUCH a typical safe Gus move to go with the guy with the most "experience". Even though the extent of that experience is just handing the ball off in garbage time mainly.  Give me Joey G or Bo and lets ride. 

You're suck a jerk, GWilly! 

*Skip to bottom for TL;DR version*

I have no idea if Joey, Cord or Bo would be better a better QB than Willis over the course of the 2019 season. What I do feel strongly is that it's highly unlikely that he's better than all three of them.

Ugh, I can already hear the "stars don't matter" cavalry stampeding, but everyone needs to remember that *all three other candidates were far more highly recruited than Willis. All three were blue chip guys and Willis was an afterthought. It's unlikely that he's better than all of them. That's just math. 

But for the "three stars have more heart" crowd, there's what we know, which is that Willis has made multiple bad decisions in limited opportunities. I'm not talking about being skittish in the pocket or taking a big hit when he should have slid. I'm talking about looking straight at a wide open receiver in the end zone with absolutely no reason not to throw it to him and saying, "Nah, Malik got this." Like, it literally looked like a decision made by a guy who refers to himself in the third person in his mind. I really, really am not excited at the prospect of him starting because logic would dictate that one of the three other candidates would be a better option. 

These are MW's combined stats for his Auburn career:
Passing: 11/14 for 69 yards and 1 touchdown
Rushing: 28 for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns

I guess 42 career reps against garbage competition is not nothing, but I don't think that qualifies him as a grizzled veteran, especially with another new OC setup. (I say another because it changed 3 or 4 times even while Chip was OC, which coincided with Malik coming here. So it's not like he's been getting super comfortable the last two years. Even the guy he was backing up clearly regressed in year 2 amid all the inconsistency.)

Sandberg and Gatewood each got 3 rushes and 1 pass attempt last year- Sandberg completed his for 22 yards- so I think Willis's experience advantage will be even more marginal relative to those guys. Not to mention, Sandberg has grandchildren that are almost Willis's age.
 

TL;DR  It's reasonable to think that Willis, with his added experience, could be better than one blue-chip-but-less-experienced QB. It's not crazy to think that he could be better than two, especially with one of them being a true freshman. It is not reasonable to me to think that he will be better than all three, especially when his experience hasn't been positive on the whole. 


*Sandberg not as much after baseball, but out of high school, not even close. 

Edited by McLoofus
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10 hours ago, Dual-Threat Rigby said:

My preferences:

1. Joey

2. Malik

3. Bo 

its close between the latter two, I just think you’re going to see some very similar concepts between them. Malik gives you better running skills in the trade off, which I know Gus can take advantage of. I don’t know if Gus can take adv of Bo potentially (!!) being a better passer

Reasonable expectations based on it being Gus:

1. Malik

2. Joey 

3. Bo

Joey seems to have all the player’s backing, and allows Gus to run the buck sweep but seeing him run a first time starter against UO in prime time? I’d have to see it to believe it. I don’t think we’ll see much Bo one way or the other unless it’s a disaster case scenario 

You Know the rules. You did this to yourself. 

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10 hours ago, Dual-Threat Rigby said:

My preferences:

1. Joey

2. Malik

3. Bo 

its close between the latter two, I just think you’re going to see some very similar concepts between them. Malik gives you better running skills in the trade off, which I know Gus can take advantage of. I don’t know if Gus can take adv of Bo potentially (!!) being a better passer

Reasonable expectations based on it being Gus:

1. Malik

2. Joey 

3. Bo

Joey seems to have all the player’s backing, and allows Gus to run the buck sweep but seeing him run a first time starter against UO in prime time? I’d have to see it to believe it. I don’t think we’ll see much Bo one way or the other unless it’s a disaster case scenario 

What running skills? He runs like a new born baby deer and is awkward AF. Joey based on 1 run in garbage time of a bowl game has already shown he is a significant better runner than Malik. Malik trips under his own 2 feet like it is his job. Reminds me of Samir trying to dribble a basketball lol. 

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1 hour ago, Dual-Threat Rigby said:

I don’t want to get back on my soap box but it isn’t fair to Bo to start comparing him or his situation to Trevor. 

If he is having the best camp and gives the team the best chance to win then how is it unfair to him ?

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21 hours ago, GwillMac6 said:

I am team anyone but Malik Willis. That would show me we are starting the best QB and not just the veteran. Is that a dick thing to say? Probaly. BUUUUUT  IMO He is the Least talented QB out of the 3 viable candidates on the roster and it would be SUCH a typical safe Gus move to go with the guy with the most "experience". Even though the extent of that experience is just handing the ball off in garbage time mainly.  Give me Joey G or Bo and lets ride. 

What's interesting about 'experience' is that Nix in some ways IS the most experienced QB. Think about it.

Willis didn't play QB until his SR year in HS, if i heard that right. Gatewood didn't play much QB, and had to share it w/ another QB his SR, and ran the ball more than throwing it. 

Nix has been a QB since 9th grade under the tutelage under an ex QB(his dad). He has run QB scheme w/ many throws under his belt.

True, he doesn't have SEC or College experience, but WIllis, only ran the ball, and Gatewood only played a few in the bowl game. 

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How did this thread get moved to the media tab, yet the kick six is still on the main page? This is actually a great thread to have on the main page so it won’t get bogged down with multiple QB threads come spring. No?

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5 hours ago, GwillMac6 said:

What running skills? He runs like a new born baby deer and is awkward AF. Joey based on 1 run in garbage time of a bowl game has already shown he is a significant better runner than Malik. Malik trips under his own 2 feet like it is his job. Reminds me of Samir trying to dribble a basketball lol. 

So based on this post, you'd have Joey, Malik and Bo then. Nothing Malik has shown or not shown should put him lower on the list than some guy from HS 

5 hours ago, DAG said:

If he is having the best camp and gives the team the best chance to win then how is it unfair to him ?

It isnt fair to compare him to a generational prospect lol. Saying "If Trevor could do it", Trevor could've took jobs probably everywhere except OSU and Alabama, its not a similar situation. Bo's nice but the fact that we could even have this discussion shows he's not THAT nice

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Just now, Dual-Threat Rigby said:

So based on this post, you'd have Joey, Malik and Bo then. Nothing Malik has shown or not shown should put him lower on the list than some guy from HS 

It isnt fair to compare him to a generational prospect lol. Saying "If Trevor could do it", Trevor could've took jobs probably everywhere except OSU and Alabama, its not a similar situation. Bo's nice but the fact that we could even have this discussion shows he's not THAT nice

I rather see Blake Fields out there than Malik if he still had eligibility so hell nawwwwwww lol. You are SO BIASED against pocket passers and I dunno why. Bo is the highest rated High School QB AU has signed since Jason Campbell. He is the type of QB who CAN come in and start from day 1. If Joey G beats him out then that means it has all come together for Joey G and he is killing it. Those 2 are the 2 most talented QBs on our roster by a mile. It is time we just call Malik what he was. He was a late take who we took a month before signing day because we missed out on all the other guys higher on our QB board. He is a depth guy. Not someone who should be our starter. He is not a SEC level talent. 

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I’m hoping one of the other guys steps up and Malik moves to DB.  He is too gifted athletically to waste as a backup.  

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2 hours ago, GwillMac6 said:

I rather see Blake Fields out there than Malik if he still had eligibility so hell nawwwwwww lol. You are SO BIASED against pocket passers and I dunno why. Bo is the highest rated High School QB AU has signed since Jason Campbell. He is the type of QB who CAN come in and start from day 1. If Joey G beats him out then that means it has all come together for Joey G and he is killing it. Those 2 are the 2 most talented QBs on our roster by a mile. It is time we just call Malik what he was. He was a late take who we took a month before signing day because we missed out on all the other guys higher on our QB board. He is a depth guy. Not someone who should be our starter. He is not a SEC level talent. 

being a high rated prospect doesn't really matter though, Auburn has wasted higher rated prospects at other positions and we accordingly refuse to use that train of thought to imply a guy should be able to just outtalent people ahead of him. Bo isn't even the best QB prospect in HIS class, and we're saying in a REALISTIC sense, he should be the best QB in the locker room already? 

Malik in an adjustment of the 2013 offense has more of a percentage of chance to work right now, because he has provided more on the collegiate level. Until Bo does something in college, he is nothing but a variable 

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1 hour ago, Dual-Threat Rigby said:

being a high rated prospect doesn't really matter though, Auburn has wasted higher rated prospects at other positions and we accordingly refuse to use that train of thought to imply a guy should be able to just outtalent people ahead of him. Bo isn't even the best QB prospect in HIS class, and we're saying in a REALISTIC sense, he should be the best QB in the locker room already? 

Malik in an adjustment of the 2013 offense has more of a percentage of chance to work right now, because he has provided more on the collegiate level. Until Bo does something in college, he is nothing but a variable 

O LORD HERE WE GO!!!!! You know it is the off season when the comments about wanting to go back to the 2013 offense comes up again. haha. MALIK IS NOT EVEN THE BEST DT QB ON OUR ROSTER!!! That would be Joey G?! AM I SCREAMING? YES I am!!!!!!!!! lol. I AM LOSING MY FREAKING MIND OVER SOMEONE thinking Malik Willis is capable of being a starting QB in the SEC. Just because he wears 14 and has run some does not mean he is anything close to Nick Marshall. He is not. Nick was a elite level athlete with one of the best cutting abilities AU has ever had at any position. Much less QB. IF you want to run anything resembling the 2013 offense why not go with Joey G? He is by far your best bet. He is bigger faster stronger and just flat out better than Malik. But the 2013 cannot be run because you need to have ya know a actual good offensive line and H Back. We have neither of those things. If we tried to run the 2013 offense we would get mauled. 

Well Bo was the second best ranked QB in his class will you settle for that? And yah he absolutely already could be the best QB on our roster. How is that so hard to believe? Dude is a stud. I will say none of this matters because this is Malzahns last season barring a miracle season and with our schedule I do not see it. I am excited for the future with a true elite QB groomer as our next head coach. There is hope but it is a ways off. 

Edited by GwillMac6
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2 hours ago, GwillMac6 said:

O LORD HERE WE GO!!!!! You know it is the off season when the comments about wanting to go back to the 2013 offense comes up again. haha. MALIK IS NOT EVEN THE BEST DT QB ON OUR ROSTER!!! That would be Joey G?! AM I SCREAMING? YES I am!!!!!!!!! lol. I AM LOSING MY FREAKING MIND OVER SOMEONE thinking Malik Willis is capable of being a starting QB in the SEC. Just because he wears 14 and has run some does not mean he is anything close to Nick Marshall. He is not. Nick was a elite level athlete with one of the best cutting abilities AU has ever had at any position. Much less QB. IF you want to run anything resembling the 2013 offense why not go with Joey G? He is by far your best bet. He is bigger faster stronger and just flat out better than Malik. But the 2013 cannot be run because you need to have ya know a actual good offensive line and H Back. We have neither of those things. If we tried to run the 2013 offense we would get mauled. 

Well Bo was the second best ranked QB in his class will you settle for that? And yah he absolutely already could be the best QB on our roster. How is that so hard to believe? Dude is a stud. I will say none of this matters because this is Malzahns last season barring a miracle season and with our schedule I do not see it. I am excited for the future with a true elite QB groomer as our next head coach. There is hope but it is a ways off. 

He's a stud based on HS, he's nothing based on college 

I never said Malik was better than Joey, I just said Malik is gonna get in before Bo

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2 hours ago, Dual-Threat Rigby said:

He's a stud based on HS, he's nothing based on college 

I never said Malik was better than Joey, I just said Malik is gonna get in before Bo

If he does that then Gus has truly given up and just wants to be fired so he can collect his buyout money. For the record what I THINK HE SHOULD DO and what he will do are 2 different things. Playing Malik the least talented of the 3 QBs JUST because he has the most "experience" is such a safe move from Gus. It is what he always resorts to though. If he starts Joey G or BO then MAYBE JUST MAYBE there is hope for next season. WOOOOOO!!!!!!! *fingers crossed*.

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