With 11 days until No. 11 Oregon’s season opener against No. 16 Auburn, the Ducks are getting a jumpstart on game prep for the Tigers. The week one polarizing matchup is the Ducks’ chance to upset a Top-20 ranked team in prime time and become the Pac-12’s best chance for a spot in the playoff.
A win sends the underdog Ducks and the Pac-12 Conference into national relevancy, and a loss initiates an uphill fight; no team has ever rebounded from a week one loss to make the final field of four.
Half of Oregon’s Tuesday practice was Auburn prep; the other half resembled a typical ‘Ducks vs. Ducks’ fall camp practice.
“The urgency is picking up out there,” Oregon linebacker coach Ken Wilson said. “Every practice has got to be their best practice now. “
Now the Ducks know who they are preparing for, as Auburn named true freshman Bo Nix as starting quarterback.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn announced Nix beat out redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood in a competition that began during the spring and lasted the duration of fall camp.
Don’t count out this freshman. A former five-star prospect and top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class, Nix enrolled early in January is looking to start his Auburn career with a bang. What you need to know:
He knows how to win
Nix led Pinson Valley High in Alabama to back-to-back state titles with his father, Auburn legend Patrick Nix, as the head coach. The reigning Alabama Mr. Football, Nix broke the state records for career total offense (12,505 yards) and touchdowns (161).
It’s all in the family
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback is following in his father’s footsteps. Patrick Nix threw for 4,957 yards and 31 touchdowns over 32 games for the Tigers from 1992-95. Patrick met his wife in college and Bo was raised a Tigers fan.
Nix is a pocket passer that can run zone-read plays to the outside with surprising speed. He excels at reacting in the pocket both to avoid rushers and to deliver the football, which he does with solid accuracy in short and intermediate throws.
Scouting reports from scrimmages show that Nix does not have an overpowering arm with a tendency to float long downfield throws.
It will be the first time in his head-coaching career that Malzahn has started a freshman quarterback to open a season. Also, it will be the first time Auburn has started a true freshman at quarterback in Week 1 during the modern era.
It’s very likely that Oregon will see both Nix and Gatewood at quarterback on August 31. Gatewood is larger and excels at running inside to pick up third-and-short downs. The Ducks will need to be prepared for both.
The juxtaposition will be clear in the season opener; the first time Nix takes the field for Auburn and the start of quarterback Justin Herbert’s final season as a Duck.