Bo Nix was a highly touted five-star recruit, a player that draws mixed emotions from fans. Will Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham help launch Nix to new heights this year?
Nix played his freshman year in 2019 at Auburn, under head coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham. His debut was in the biggest matchup of the opening week of the college football season, where the 16th-ranked Tigers rallied to a last-minute comeback win against No. 11 Oregon.
Nix threw the go-ahead touchdown with nine seconds left in the game on a jump ball heave pass to cement the win. However, aside from that “legendary” play he struggled mightily, going 13-32 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Auburn really won the game on the strength of its defensive line led by Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown, and the Auburn rushing game that put up more than 200 yards against the Ducks.
Despite his overall poor play in the game, the college football media turned Nix into a hero over his game-saving pass. “Congratulations to young Bo Nix on quite a memorable first career start!!“ tweeted Kirk Herbstreit. “Legend of Bo Nix Begins,” gushed Kerry Miller of Bleacher Report. And after Auburn bookended its season by beating Alabama 48-45 in the Iron Bowl, the hype only increased.
Glossed over in the media’s chase for a feel-good story was that, statistically speaking, Nix wasn’t that good in his freshman season. He was certainly not as good as true freshman quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence, Jake Fromm and Jalen Hurts. He was nowhere close to having the maturity, pre-snap reads, or ability to process the college game that those three had.
For the 2020 season, Malzahn had to replace Dillingham when he left to rejoin Mike Norvell, who had just been hired as the Florida State head coach. Malzahn made a home-run hire in Chad Morris, the offensive coordinator who launched the tempo spread at Clemson. Nix now had a veteran offensive coordinator to help him reach his five-star potential.
Disturbingly, Nix’s numbers didn’t show measurable improvement — his passing rating even fell slightly. After one year, Morris went back to coaching high school football in Texas where his roots were, and Nix would get his third offensive coordinator/quarterback coach in as many years.
That coach was Mike Bobo, who had spent 2007-2014 as the offensive coordinator at Georgia, followed by spending 2015-2019 as the head coach at Colorado State. Nix once again showed barely measurable improvement again under Bobo, who had a wealth of coaching experience.
It was apparent in Nix’s first year that he wasn’t on the level of Lawrence, Fromm or Hurts when they were freshmen. It’s glaring that he hasn’t been able to get to that level in his three years of playing college football. He hasn’t even been able to get to the level of Oregon quarterback transfer Anthony Brown’s junior year at Boston College.
That’s right. Brown was better in his junior year than Nix was in his! Brown averaged 9.1 yards per completion, while posting a passer rating of 154.5, while Nix averaged 7.1 yards with a passer rating of 130.
Let that sink in for a moment, Duck fans. And it gets worse: Nix has never been as good as Brown was even last year, when Brown regressed under Cristobal.
Since being thrown into starting from day one as a freshman at Auburn, Nix has had moments from spectacular to downright ugly. And some Duck fans still have a pie-in-the-sky mantra that “Bo Nix is the Guy,” that he was a highly rated recruit, comes from a football family, has extensive starting experience, played against the best in SEC competition, et cetera.
Yes, Nix is all of these things, and he still isn’t that good of a quarterback.
Nix’s inconsistency is why he isn’t going to be the savior of the Oregon football 2022 season. He wasn’t as good as Brown was before Cristobal ruined him, and now we are going to plug him in as QB1 and expect him to “blow up”? That simply isn’t realistic. It’s more realistic that we will get, in the best case, a performance like Anthony Brown’s in his last year at Boston College.
Just that alone is a big ask for Nix. We are talking about making a two-yards-per-pass completion jump with another 24.5-point jump in passer rating just to get to Brown’s level at Boston College!
If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck, folks! Nix is just not going to be the Duck we want. The statistical evidence shows the odds are long that he is going to give us elite-level quarterback play this year.
I don’t believe there is a genie coming out of the bottle with Bo Nix this year at Oregon. What do you think, Duck
fans? Share your thoughts on the OBD Forum.
Top Photo by Auburn Football Twitter
Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.
I was born a Cali kid and my uncle is a USC Alum. Remember going to an SC game when I was like 5 with him. I moved to Oregon in 77 when I was 6 and became a Duck fan long ago. I remember Reggie Ogburn OB days, so it was before the Ducks got good. I’ve been a sports nut since I was a kid.
I went to Tigard High about the same time as linebacker Jeremy Asher did, and I watched him team with Rich Ruhl on the inside of the Gang Green defense.
Lots of Ducks memories, Danny O’Neil’s passing in 1st Rose Bowl, Kenny Wheaton, Joey’s comebacks early in his career and how jacked up he got!
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