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Nix playing like season is a mulligan


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Auburn Football

Auburn’s Bo Nix playing like season is a mulligan

Updated Oct 20, 2020; Posted Oct 20, 2020

By Joseph Goodman | jgoodman@al.com

This might come as a surprise to his many critics this week, but Auburn’s quarterback remains the baby of the toughest division of the toughest conference in college football.

Shocking to some, obviously, but it’s completely true. Bo Nix might be an old name, but he is still the youngest starting quarterback in the SEC West.

It’s understandable if people forgot this fact because we’ve been watching Nix develop under the spotlight for years, but he’s 20. Guess what? During a season like nothing we’re ever going to experience again (crosses fingers), he’s playing like it.

Should we continue to be patient with Nix and this Auburn team considering the circumstances, or is it time to demand Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chad Morris scrap everything and just hand the ball off to an even younger running back 35 times every game?

That was sarcasm, but of course that has been the talk this week. If you want to put wear and tear on the legs of a great running back in a year that doesn’t really matter, then definitely do that, though.

This is blasphemy for the SEC, but probably patience is the answer for Auburn this season. If there were ever a year for it in this demanding league, 2020 is the one. Nix knew this season was going to be a bloodbath, and he’s starting to look pretty prophetic. It could be worse. It seems like Mississippi State has already completely given up and who really knows when Florida will be allowed to play again.

Back before the pandemic, I thought that maybe Nix had a chance to be one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC this season. Maybe he still does. For now, though, I’m just going to keep reminding myself that Nix is younger than the vast majority of the starting quarterbacks in college football, and this season is favoring the older players.

Nix tossed three interceptions last week in a loss at South Carolina, and now goes on the road to play the next youngest starter in the SEC West, Ole Miss redshirt sophomore Matt Corral. Corral is coming off a six-interception loss at Arkansas.

We already know that Nix has the ability to perform well under pressure, and that’s why it was difficult to see him struggle against the Gamecocks. This is going to sound crazy, but he kinda looked like a still-young quarterback whose offense didn’t have a spring practice with a new coordinator.

Malzahn even said it.

“You know, it could be just Game 4 and not going through spring, I don’t know, but if you look at the stat sheet, we wanted to be balanced, and for the most part we were,” Malzahn said.

All true. Nix’s three picks were the game.

After the brutal loss at Georgia, Nix is playing like this season is a mulligan. There was the boneheaded mistake at the end of the Arkansas game, and then his decision making in the second half against South Carolina once again looked like a player lacking focus.

People want to know what’s wrong with Nix. He’s playing like an underclassman in a season that doesn’t count against his eligibility. Every coach in the country was worried about motivating underclassmen going into this season.

Fun fact: Every single quarterback of a team currently ranked in the AP Top 10 is an upperclassman with the lone exception being freshman Shane Illingworth of No.6 Oklahoma State. The Pokes haven’t done much to earn that ranking. Illingworth gets his toughest test of the season to date on Saturday with a home game against Iowa State.

Fun fact No.2: Nix has more wins this season than any other starting quarterback in the SEC that’s his age or younger. Nix is 2-2 after the loss at South Carolina, and Missouri’s Connor Bazelak — the only other starting quarterback in the SEC from the 2019 signing class — is 1-2. Vanderbilt true freshman quarterback Ken Seals is 0-3.

Kellen Mond, a senior, is playing like this is his last season at Texas A&M. For Kyle Trask, who has been at Florida since 2016, this is probably it. Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is a redshirt junior. You know what Jones was doing his second year on campus? Besides sitting behind two other quarterbacks, he was coaching a powderpuff sorority football team.

Nix bested Jones in 2019, but he could lose to Alabama this season and still theoretically become the only starting quarterback in the history of the Iron Bowl to win it four times.

Nix is still so young. It’s easy to forget. He’s not getting worse, though. He’s just got a case of COVID-19 arrested development. Like every other kid in America, he’s probably going to need to repeat a grade.

Joseph Goodman is a columnist for the Alabama Media Group. He’s on Twitter @JoeGoodmanJr.

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Fun Fact: One of our upperclassman is playing at Liberty. The other transferred to UK. The coaches chose this path to go with a young guy. So this columnist can save all of that other stuff or play his back ups, whom are both older.

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I mean, yeah, he's young. But he's not young on experience. 

He's been a starting quarterback since what, 8th grade? 

There's some wisdom to giving him, and the Auburn football team some grace as they navigate this season with a new OC and a fresh offensive line. I'm all for that, but let's not give Bo a pass just because he's young in years. 

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If the offensive line can continue to improve and the running backs can stay healthy, we might all be surprised at how much the QB play will improve. Right now our starting QB looks like he is desperate to make a big play and is making some unwise decisions because of that. The Auburn offense will succeed as a team or it won't succeed at all. He needs some more help from the o-line and running backs together executing the rushing attack. And not just one running back please.

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38 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

I mean, yeah, he's young. But he's not young on experience. 

He's been a starting quarterback since what, 8th grade? 

There's some wisdom to giving him, and the Auburn football team some grace as they navigate this season with a new OC and a fresh offensive line. I'm all for that, but let's not give Bo a pass just because he's young in years. 

Especially when he dumps the ball while being sacked on the regular. He's had at least 3 intentional grounding calls on him. That's 8th grade QB knowledge.

Edited by WDE_OxPx_2010
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17 minutes ago, CodeRocket said:

If the offensive line can continue to improve and the running backs can stay healthy, we might all be surprised at how much the QB play will improve. Right now our starting QB looks like he is desperate to make a big play and is making some unwise decisions because of that. The Auburn offense will succeed as a team or it won't succeed at all. He needs some more help from the o-line and running backs together executing the rushing attack. And not just one running back please.

I could go along with this...but Gus.

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It seems like he is having an extremely difficult time reading the defense this year.  There were several times last game where he misread the defense on RPOs; instead of giving the ball to Tank, he pulled for a pass.  He either is in his own head too much and not confident, or he is losing his ability to count. So, even when the line improves, the mental game driving the machine needs to be present in the game. The football IQ just does not seem to be there at the moment.

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1 hour ago, CodeRocket said:

If the offensive line can continue to improve

This is a common issue with Gus, we seem to be completely overhauling the OL every couple years instead of building quality depth. 

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6 minutes ago, Scottie said:

It seems like he is having an extremely difficult time reading the defense this year.  There were several times last game where he misread the defense on RPOs; instead of giving the ball to Tank, he pulled for a pass.  He either is in his own head too much and not confident, or he is losing his ability to count. So, even when the line improves, the mental game driving the machine needs to be present in the game. The football IQ just does not seem to be there at the moment.

To be fair to the players,  I don't believe there are ever any reads. Only predetermined playcalling no matter what. Sometimes Gus guesses right, the players execute properly or the defense just whiffs on a play. Jmho

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I worked my ass off to make my Musikverein debut in Vienna.  I understood what I had to do to grow, and make people want to hire me, and to be ready and able for that debut.  Then I went out and did it.

Bo hasn't.  That is a key trait that we are missing here.  He understands that he has to get better, but he doesn't.

We are talking football here.  It really ain't that hard. Especially if you really WANT to get better.

There is a huge gulf between understanding and doing

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25 minutes ago, Sully to Beasley said:

I am so sick of the terms "young and inexperienced". Bo needs to grow up and become a leader or get out of the way for the next man up.

TO lead is by example. When Bo helps us win a game with his mental decisions or his athletics one then he shows leadership. When he makes mistakes and owns up to them, then he is showing leadership. He has done both.

But, he needs to show 'QB' skills beyond being athletic. He needs to be better on executing his passes, as well as making decisions. He didn't do that in the USC game. Until he improves on his mechanics, and slowing the game down in his mind, we will continue to pull our hair out on the rest of these games. 

He may be 'young and inexperienced' in this new offense Morris is using, but he is seasoned in being on the field playing 17 P5 games, and making the mistakes he is making as just being a QB (like running around on the last play of the game, when it was imperative that he attempt a pass into the EZ).

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Bull Hocky! Nobody ever made the "young and inexperienced" excuse for 1st & 2nd year starters Trevor Lawrence, Johnny Manziel, Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts, Tim Tebow -- the list could go on and on. In fact,a lot of these guys sat on the bench their first year, so they had basically no starting experience in therir second year.

You can say they had better players around them, but I do not buy the idea that Bo's problems are coaching. He has attended lots of elite QB camps and I'm sure every QB coach has tried the drill into him fundamentals and mechanics. None of those guys above under-threw receivers over and over and over, were off-target over and over and over.

With a full year of starting experience, there is no excuse for Bo's performance. Let's face it. He's just a mediocre QB who received a lot of hype that he bought into, thrust into a tough situation, and it shows. This is not a diss of Bo. He is who he is. Not everyone is a Trevor Lawrence or Tua or Jalen, or Johnny. Bo isn't. Gus made some poor decisions putting him into this situation.

 

 

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21 hours ago, leglessdan said:

To be fair to the players,  I don't believe there are ever any reads. Only predetermined playcalling no matter what. Sometimes Gus guesses right, the players execute properly or the defense just whiffs on a play. Jmho

You may very well be right, and if that is the case, then it is very damning.  It definitely seems that way.  Without autonomy and the ability to adjust ad hoc, the offense will never be good/great.  

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5 minutes ago, McLoofus said:

Before this season, the pass was usually predetermined. I think that there have been more reads to make this season, but it seems to have just confused Bo instead of helping him.

That's what it looked like to me last game as well.  There are a couple RPOs where Tank could have gone to the house, but Bo ended up keeping the ball for a loss/int/sack.

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It'd be one thing if there was any improvement with his pocket awareness and usage, but it's seemingly the same if not worse. 

Earlier @DAG posted a video of Sean White's highlights. He routinely stood in the pocket and took hits but delivered good balls to the receivers. I've yet seen Bo stand tall and take the hit to make the play. Self-preservation is sometimes detrimental when trying to make plays in football

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22 minutes ago, bigbird said:

It'd be one thing if there was any improvement with his pocket awareness and usage, but it's seemingly the same if not worse. 

Earlier @DAG posted a video of Sean White's highlights. He routinely stood in the pocket and took hits but delivered good balls to the receivers. I've yet seen Bo stand tall and take the hit to make the play. Self-preservation is sometimes detrimental when trying to make plays in football

It should also be pointed out that Sean did that after only having been given 2nd-team reps and coming in as the starter mid-season. And the offense around him was probably even less stable than this one.

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On 10/21/2020 at 1:15 PM, 1716AU said:

I worked my ass off to make my Musikverein debut in Vienna.  I understood what I had to do to grow, and make people want to hire me, and to be ready and able for that debut.  Then I went out and did it.

Bo hasn't.  That is a key trait that we are missing here.  He understands that he has to get better, but he doesn't.

We are talking football here.  It really ain't that hard. Especially if you really WANT to get better.

There is a huge gulf between understanding and doing

Bo certainly hasn't gotten better and the coaches continue to allow him to play the way he does. Consequences have a wonderful way of making you self evaluate. IMO, the coaches are aiding in his not getting better by continuing to allow him to make bad decisions and use bad techniques. 

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6 hours ago, bigbird said:

It'd be one thing if there was any improvement with his pocket awareness and usage, but it's seemingly the same if not worse. 

Earlier @DAG posted a video of Sean White's highlights. He routinely stood in the pocket and took hits but delivered good balls to the receivers. I've yet seen Bo stand tall and take the hit to make the play. Self-preservation is sometimes detrimental when trying to make plays in football

I wrote about this several weeks back but I was told that I was angry that Bo was the starting QB 😂. Now it seems like there's a bunch of people getting angry I'm still over here just smh. 

I'll say it again there's a bunch of stuff to talk about but I'm not understanding how he doesn't have a grasp on the fundamentals, and to not know he had to throw that ball to have a CHANCE to win......EVERYBODY in that stadium but him knew

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