Bo Nix was the 2019 SEC Freshman of the Year. He began the season as the unproven namesake of his father and former Auburn QB Pat Nix. Many believed he only won the starting job as veneration for his father’s legacy. It didn’t take long to prove the haters wrong, however. A week one game-winning drive in the top-10 matchup against Oregon was the modern day equivalent to Alexander Hamilton serving as George Washington’s chief staff aide at 22 years old. Okay… Maybe that is a stretch. But the upstart Hamilton and Nix do have something in common. They are [were] ‘young, scrappy and hungry’ and neither threw away their shot!’
After winning personal silverware, but failing to win a bowl game or achieve a 10-win season, hopefully now, Nix ‘will never be satisfied.’ Alright, I’m sorry, enough Hamilton jokes. If I still have you at this point, don’t feel ‘helpless’; we are talking strictly football from here – ‘non-stop.’
With a 10-game SEC only schedule, it will be difficult for Nix to expand his stats from 2019. Still, however, Nix won SEC Freshman of the Year without posting chart-topping numbers. In 13 games, Nix threw for 2,542 yards, an Auburn freshman record 16 TD’s and 6 INT’s. For comparison, Jarrett Stidham threw for 2,794 yards, 18 TD’s and 5 INT’s in his senior season at Auburn in 2018. Stidham made one SEC Championship and that was the pinnacle of his career on the Plains. I’m sure Nix is hoping for more.
In 2020, if he wants to translate his personal success to team triumph, Nix needs to do these three things.
1. Throw more touchdowns:
Nix’s’ 16 TD’s ranked sixth in the SEC. Joe Burrow was an outlier – leading with 60 – but Nix only trailed second ranked Florida QB Kyle Trask by nine (25 total). In terms of interceptions – excluding Burrow and the now graduated Georgia QB Jake Fromm – Nix bests each of the other top-6 touchdown-throwing QB’s, with only six interceptions. So, what does this mean? It means Nix needs to take more chances.
In 2019, Nix averaged 6.7 yards-per-attempt (No. 9 among SEC quarterbacks). That number is far from elite – Joe Burrow led with an average of 10.3. Whether it was the play calls, a lack of confidence or no open receivers, Nix has to fix that this year. With an unproven offensive line, it may be harder done then said, but the caliber of weapons at Nix’s disposal are too enticing to play it safe. 20 touchdowns sounds reasonable enough – two per game. If Nix is going to live up to his hype in year two, that’s honestly the minimum.
2. Take command of the offense:
I want to see Bo Nix unleashed. With a new offense under first-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris, Nix can be given graces if he begins the season slowly. However, with reports from fall camp stating that Nix is appearing more comfortable with flipping protections, communicating and reading defenses, I’m bullish on the level of command that Nix will have. A thing that I hear many Auburn fans complain about is the lack of intermediate pass concepts. They have legitimate beef. Nix threw the second most screen passes (100) in all of college football last season. If he is given more control of the offense and allowed to audible when he sees fit, the number of short, safe passes – and the anger-induced high blood pressures of thousands of Tiger fans – will undoubtedly subside.
3. Be the best QB in the SEC:
This may be wishful thinking, but if Nix can accomplish the two aforementioned goals, then he will be well on his way to this one. With the departure of three mainstay SEC quarterbacks, Burrow, Fromm and Tua, the title of best QB in the SEC is totally up for grabs. For Nix to claim it, he first needs to improve on last year’s completion percentage (57.6%). Secondly, he needs to improve his intermediate and deep throws as too often the ball lost velocity and wobbled through the air on a long pass from Nix last season. And lastly, trust his teammates. Nix’s backyard football style of play can come in handy at times, but can be detrimental when he tries to do too much at the sake of making the easy play. In 2020, Nix has to know that he can make any play – but also know when not to.
It sounds simple. If Nix believes he is the best quarterback in the SEC – then he will be. Betonline.ag put Nix fourth in the Heisman odds for SEC players. He was behind Mac Jones (who he beat last season), Jamie Newman (the Wake Forest transfer QB who was projected to start for Georgia until recently opting out) and Myles Brennan (backup to Burrow at LSU last season). Newman isn’t playing; Jones and Brennan have National Championship rings – but as backups; and Nix already has more experience as an SEC starter than all of them combined.
History has its eyes on you Bo Nix. Make Alexander Hamilton proud.