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5 changes to Oregon's week two depth chart, following the loss to Auburn

5 changes to Oregon's week two depth chart, following the loss to Auburn

After Oregon's last minute 27-21 loss to Auburn, week two feels simultaneously like a breath of fresh air, an opportunity and a burden. 

Ahead of the Ducks’ (0-1) next matchup against Nevada (1-0), Coach Mario Cristobal released the weekly depth chart. There are a few notable changes for the 4:30 p.m. kickoff in Autzen Stadium.

Instant analysis:

1. Redshirt freshman Spencer Webb has been moved from tight end to wide receiver.

Webb saved quarterback Justin Herbert with an absolute stunner play. Herbert got rushed and hit while throwing the ball into the end zone. Webb went over the top of an Auburn defensive back and came down with the touchdown, then channeled his inner Allen Iverson step-over. The 20-yard score was Webb’s first career catch. 

With Juwan Johnson out, the 6-foot-6 246-pound Webb was the large target that Herbert desperately needed. 

2. Sophomore Daewood Davis has been moved from cornerback to wide receiver.

As a redshirt freshman, Davis played receiver in seven games and had a 13-yard reception against San Jose State. He moved from wide receiver to cornerback after the season.

3. True freshman Mase Funa is listed at backup at both linebacker spots.

Last week’s depth chart listed Sophomore linebacker Adrian Jackson as the backup at the "SAM" linebacker position but he was not with the team in Texas due to injury. This week Funa, who had a few major stops vs. Auburn, is the backup at SAM and at the STUD position.

4. Juwan Johnson and Cam McCormick remain listed

Neither Johnson or McCormick played against Auburn but both remain listed on the depth chart for week two. Johnson was in sweats on the sideline and out due to a late-week leg injury. McCormick was in uniform but not fully ready to play.

5. Zach Emerson is not on the depth chart

Last week’s depth chart listed Adam Stack or Camden Lewis or Zach Emerson at kicker, this week it is just Stack or Lewis.

The time is now for Oregon football to rebound

The time is now for Oregon football to rebound

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - Oregon had the chance to beat the No. 16 Auburn Tigers on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in front of 60,662 screaming fans and the nation watching.

A win would send the No. 11 Ducks and the Pac-12 Conference into national relevancy. For 59 minutes and 51 seconds, Oregon’s College Football Playoff dreams were intact. Auburn led for nine seconds of the game but it was the only nine seconds that mattered. The Tigers beat the Ducks, 27-21, on a last minute drive commanded by freshman quarterback Bo Nix in his first career start.

Following the defeat-sealing touchdown, senior linebackers Troy Dye and La’Mar Winston Jr. walked off the field, shed their helmets, huddled together and shared a few private words before walking through the tunnel to the Cowboys locker room. The somber locker room waited to hear from the veteran leaders.

It was a stark difference to the swagger of the Ducks' defense in the first half. In defensive coordinator Andy Avalos’ debut, the Ducks showed multiple defensive looks, controlling the battle in the trenches and demonstrated stout red zone defense.

In the first half, the Tigers’ three red-zone trips only netted three points. Nix looked constantly hurried and threw two interceptions with one snatched by junior cornerback Thomas Graham and one to sophomore safety Jevon Holland.

Neither turnover was converted into points for the Ducks. One of many “what ifs” which enter the mind when contemplating how Oregon blew a 21-6 lead.

“We played our asses off and played balls to the wall,” Dye said. “We have to play harder next time and turn those turnovers into touchdowns.”

BLUNDERS

What if Oregon’s largest and most experienced receiver had played? Before the game, to the surprise of many, wide receiver Juwan Johnson walked onto the field in sweats instead of Oregon’s Nike “nightmare green” and white uniform.

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert would be without the 6-foot-6 graduate transfer, who has become a go-to big-bodied target. Another loss to the Ducks receiving corps that is already without senior Brenden Schooler and freshman Mycah Pittman.

Those “what ifs?” are compounded by mistakes.

A dropped touchdown pass by Bryan Addison on what would've given Oregon a 14-0 lead. Then, a subsequent missed 20-yard field goal attempt.

An 81-yard punt return by Holland was wasted when Herbert and running back CJ Verdell muffed an exchange and Auburn returned the fumble to the 3-yard line.

A chaotic scene of time outs when Herbert had to be helped off the field after banging knees with an Auburn defender, which resulted in the burning of UO’s final two timeouts before Verdell was stopped short of the first down.

BUT THERE'S HOPE
It wasn’t all mistakes. Actually, the highlights were quite splendid and encouraging.

Holland averaged 44 yards on three punt returns.
In his 34th consecutive start, Dye recorded a career-high 15 tackles.

Oregon passed the “next man up” test at receiver. Jaylon Redd showed tremendous footwork and finished with a career-high nine catches. Johnny Johnson III looked poised and set career-highs in both receiving yards and receptions.

Herbert completed 28 passes and extended his streak of consecutive games with a passing touchdown to 29 straight games. Seven Ducks caught a pass from Herbert.

CAN THEY REBOUND?

The Ducks are starting the season 0-1 for the first time since 2011. No, a week one loss does not mean the sky is falling on the 2019 Oregon football season, however, the defeat initiates an uphill fight as no team has ever rebounded from a week one loss to make the final field of four. Of course, the Pac-12 title is still wide open.

In Oregon coach Mario Cristobal’s words, the Ducks are built on a foundation that can stand the test of a blow this big.

“We have a really good group of leaders and our program is built from the inside out,” Cristobal said. “So when situations like this hit, you're prepared to bounce back and move forward.”

So, how did Dye and Winston Jr. approach the Ducks after giving up a 21-6 advantage?
“That’s confidential,” said Holland.

For now, Oregon’s resolve will stay private… But in six days at Autzen Stadium, the Ducks will be on full display once again.

Wide receiver Juwan Johnson appears out for Oregon vs. Auburn

Wide receiver Juwan Johnson appears out for Oregon vs. Auburn

Oregon wide graduate transfer receiver Juwan Johnson will not play against No. 16 Auburn, it appears. Juwan Johnson is not suited up or warming up prior to the game. 

The receiver was held out of practice last Wednesday after leaving last Tuesday’s practice early with a noticeable limp. 

When asked for an update on the 6-foot-4, 230-pound senior, wide receiver coach Jevon Bouknight said it was “precautionary” from cramps. Johnson was expected to play week one against Auburn according to Oregon coach Mario Cristobal.

“Juwan has been cleared, he’s been full-go. We are excited about his return," Cristobal said on Monday.

The Ducks receiving corps is already coping with the loss of Brenden Schooler, who will be out another five to seven weeks after suffering a right foot injury that required surgery.

The depth took another hit when true freshman receiver Mycah Pittman, who was expected to contribute or possibly start this season, hurt his shoulder while making a diving catch and will be sidelined for at least 6-8 weeks.

Also, freshman wide receiver JR Waters had a lower leg procedure and won’t return for four to six weeks. Freshmen Lance Wilhoit has also been limited with lingering injures.

Behind Juwan Johnson on the depth chart is redshirt freshman Bryan Addison. Jaylon Redd and Johnny Johnson III will also start for the Ducks. 

Keys to an Oregon Duck win, Auburn Tigers to keep an eye on

Keys to an Oregon Duck win, Auburn Tigers to keep an eye on

It’s been almost 250 days since Oregon has played a football game. The anticipation is palpable for the season opener between the No. 11 Ducks and No. 16 Auburn Tigers.

BY THE NUMBERS, STATS AND GAMBLING SPREAD

A win would be Oregon’s first over a ranked team in a season opener since Wisconsin in 2001.


Numbers to know: Oregon brings back 17 positional starters from last year’s nine-win team, which is the fourth most in the nation. On offense the Ducks return 10 starters, including all five offensive linemen. The offensive line has a combined 153 career starts, which is the most in the nation.

Fun fact: A win would give Oregon its first four-game win streak (extending from 2018) since the 2015 season.


Fun fact 2: It’s not Oregon coach Mario Cristobal’s first meeting with Auburn. Cristobal’s record is 3-1 against Gus Malzhan's Tigers during his time as an Alabama assistant.

Betting line: Auburn is favored by 3.5 points.

SCOUTING REPORT

After beating then-No. 6 Washington, Auburn went 8-5 in 2018. Auburn has one of the toughest 2019 schedules in the nation and Coach Gus Malzahn enters his seventh year as head coach appearing on just about every ‘hot seat’ list in the country. The Tigers offense features true freshman five-star prospect Bo Nix starting at quarterback, three returning rushers, an unproven wide receiving corps and a veteran offensive line.

The daunting Auburn defense and possibly the best defensive line in the country is highlighted by Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson, and Nick Coe. The battle won’t stop there. The Tigers’ defensive backs play extremely physical at the line of scrimmage, creating a challenge for Oregon’s largely unproven receiving corps.

The Tigers have ranked inside the top 15 nationally in scoring defense each of the past three seasons, allowing an average of 18.3 points per game over the three seasons.
National Stage: Hello, nation! ESPN’s College GameDay will open the football season on Aug. 31 at Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas to preview Oregon vs. Auburn. It marks the 25th time (14-10) in program history that the Ducks have been featured on College GameDay.

KEYS TO AN OREGON WIN

Protect quarterback Justin Herbert: It’s no secret that Auburn’s number one priority is getting consistent pressure on Herbert, who has the rare talent to take over the game. Both teams would like to lay claim to having the best offensive and defensive lines in the country. The Ducks return all five offensive lineman for a combined 153 career starts, which is the most in the nation. UO will need all that experience and for UO’s running backs to show their pass blocking improvements vs. Auburn.
"I think that is going to be a huge key,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “He can make all the throws and he's got really good receivers to throw to, so you've got to make him uncomfortable… we need to win the line of scrimmage.”

Capitalize on freshman mistakes: Nix, a former five-star prospect and top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class, is not your average freshman. In his first ever game under the college football lights (in an NFL stadium), if he does make any errors, the Ducks must make the Tigers pay. A Duck pick-six could be the difference in this expected low-scoring game. Winning the turnover battle is key; The Tigers are 19-5 when they play turnover-free football under Malzahn.

Strike early: Coming off a less-than-exciting offensive performance in Oregon’s 7-6 Redbox Bowl vs. Michigan State, early execution to get in the end zone would greatly benefit the Ducks. Question marks have revolved around UO’s receivers for almost nine months after the departure of leading receiver Dillon Mitchell to the NFL. A big catch from starting wide receivers Juwan Johnson, Johnny Johnson III, or Jaylon Redd would calm the team and put Auburn on its heels. Running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye can’t give up against the Tigers that allowed only 3.7 yards per carry last season.

[READ: Oregon running back Travis Dye’s spin move isn’t his only weapon]

TIGERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

DT Derrick Brown, DE Marlon Davidson and DL Nick Coe

Auburn’s defensive front returns all three starters that combined for 14 sacks last season. The Tigers trio is projected 2020 first round draft selections and has set a goal to allow only 3.3 yards per carry this season.

“They’re as physical and as impressive as you can see,” said Cristobal.

Oregon preseason All-American Shane Lemieux couldn’t compare Auburn’s to any he’s seen in his career. Lemieux said Washington, Utah, and Stanford feature physical defensive fronts, they’re not “even close” to what the Ducks are going to see against Brown, Davidson and Coe.

RB JaTarvious "Boobie" Whitlow

Malzahn listed six running backs on his week one depth chart and although he feels “confident that they could all possibly play.” Whitlow will be the first Tigers on the field. Auburn operates a run heavy attack and in his freshman campaign last season, Whitlow led the Tigers with 150 carries for 787 yards and six touchdowns.

HOW AND WHERE TO WATCH

Time: Saturday, Aug. 31, 4:44 p.m PT

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

TV: ABC

Tune in: Oregon IMG Sports Network

More Ducks:

Enough is enough; It’s wide receiver “acrobat” Johnny Johnson’s time

10 Numbers to know: Oregon vs. Auburn

Ducks happy to meet Auburn quarterback Bo Nix in season opener

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 1: History

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 2: Coach’s kids

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 3: Legacy

"Glad it went in our favor" Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on Michael Dyer play

"Glad it went in our favor" Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on Michael Dyer play

What is Auburn coach Gus Malzahn saying about No. 11 Oregon? From the SEC teleconference on Wednesday:

“We are excited the first game is here,” Malzahn said. “It’ll be a really good test. We feel like we are playing one of the best teams in the country.”

Is Oregon a typical Pac-12 conference/ West Coast team, even with coach Mario Cristobal at the helm?

“Oregon is a really good offensive team,” Malzahn said. “They’ve got a very experienced offensive line. Of course, defensively that are also very experienced. We played Washington last year, first game of the season. We were very impressed with that group. I think Oregon is in a similar category as Washington last year.”

Will wide receiver Anthony Schwartz be available?

Schwartz, who broke a bone in his left hand early in fall camp, is still recovering from surgery earlier this month and remains questionable. He’s arguably the fastest player in college football.

Malzahn said, Schwartz will make the trip but it’ll be a game time decision.

This game is a rematch of the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. Are you aware of the Oregon fan perspective that Michael Dyer was down? How important was that play?

“That was a big play in the biggest game, there is no doubt about that, that happened to be on the last drive,” Malzahn said. “Glad it went in our favor. Great memories of that game, both teams were really, really good… It was an excellent game.”

More Ducks:

10 Numbers to know: Oregon vs. Auburn

Enough is enough; It’s wide receiver “acrobat” Johnny Johnson’s time

Ducks happy to meet Auburn quarterback Bo Nix in season opener

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 1: History

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 2: Coach’s kids

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 3: Legacy

Enough is enough; It’s wide receiver “acrobat” Johnny Johnson’s time

Enough is enough; It’s wide receiver “acrobat” Johnny Johnson’s time

During fall practices, breakfast check starts at 6:15 a.m. for the Oregon football team.  The first Duck to arrive through the doors of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex in Eugene, OR, is junior wide receiver Johnny Johnson III.

The early bird wide receiver has attacked the 2019 season with a different approach and the team is feeling the dividends. Now the question remains; After an up and down Oregon career, when injuries have shrunk the pool of eligible receivers, is this the season Johnny Johnson truly arrives as a reliable option for quarterback Justin Herbert?

“I’m fired up for him because of the type of camp that he’s had… He’s said ‘Enough is enough. It’s my time,’” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “He’s been through a lot. We all have our ups and downs but we like sticking by our guys. We’ve stuck by him. He knows it. He feels it.”

The 6-foot, 200-pound former three-star recruit from Chandler, Arizona has started 16 games in the past two seasons. He had more receptions and yards as a freshman than last season; in his 10 starts in 2017, Johnny Johnson totaled 21 receptions for 299 yards and one touchdown. As a sophomore, he had 17 receptions for 215 yards and four touchdowns but most concerning was his dropped passes and decline in production in UO’s final eight games.

Hence the ups and downs that Cristobal referenced.

“Whether it’s an up and down season for (Johnny Johnson), he’s always going to come in and work hard,” said senior linebacker Troy Dye. “He’s the first dude in the facility every day, getting extra treatment, stretching out, rolling out. He’s one of the last dudes off the field every day… I think this year will be a big year for him”

2019 is a fresh slate and Johnny Johnson has prepared to take advantage of his prime opportunity. His veteran presence is rare; as Johnny Johnson and junior Jaylon Redd are the only healthy receivers who have caught more than one pass from Herbert. The majority of his reps have been with the first team and he was a top performer in Oregon’s most recent scrimmage with four catches and 53 yards.

His teammates and coaches have noticed his soaring confidence translate to excellent play.

“(Johnny Johnson) has gotten a lot better from last year,” Junior cornerback Deommodore Lenoir said. “To summarize his whole game, he’s an acrobat; He makes crazy catches, diving catches, all types of catches.”

Lenoir also tabbed Johnny Johnson and Juwan Johnson as Oregon’s most physical receivers. An important title, considering the No. 11 Ducks have a date with No. 16 Auburn on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.

The Tigers’ secondary is filled with veterans, returning four of five starters including two seniors at safety. Auburn’s athletic, smart and daunting defense will test the Duck’s pass catchers as they’ve proven to be pesky; breaking up 39 passes and picking off 12 in 2018. While the Tigers’ defensive line gets attention for being one of the best in the nation, Cristobal’s been impressed with Auburn’s explosive secondary.

“They’re as physical and as impressive as you can see,” Cristobal said.

It’s a perfect time for everything to come together for Johnny Johnson. He’s confident in his football IQ and has worked to become “better at it all; mentally, physically, running routes and catching the ball”.

His versatility will be key. As injuries have mounted, Johnny Johnson has been working outside and in the slot for the Ducks. The Ducks receiving corps is coping with injuries to Brenden Schooler (right foot), Mycah Pittman (shoulder), JR Waters (lower leg) and Lance Wihoit (limited). Oregon needs Johnny Johnson, Redd and Juwan Johnson to own their starting spots from the jump.

Johnny Johnson’s confidence in himself spills over into this praise for Oregon’s wide receiver unit.

“They’ll see on Saturdays. They’ll see,” said Johnny Johnson. “I ain’t got nothing to say. They’ll see…”

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 3: Legacy

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 3: Legacy

The season opener between No. 11 Oregon and No. 16 Auburn is beginning to look like the plot of a Disney movie. Two ranked opponents in the national spotlight, led by hometown quarterbacks who have been preparing their entire football career for a moment like this.

Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert and Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix have the opportunity to write the introduction to the 2019 football season. August 31st is the beginning of Herbert’s swan song and the start of Nix’s legacy.

A win for the Ducks would mark their first over a ranked team in a season opener since Wisconsin in 2001 and arguably Herbert’s most substantial victory in his career as a Duck.

[The plot thickens with Herbert and Nix’s family histories in part one]

[Part two: Coach’s kids groomed for starting roles at childhood dream schools]

Lasting legacy

While Herbert and Nix have strangely Disney-esque comparable pasts, this is where the story narrative differs.

A projected top 2019 NFL Draft selection, Herbert passed on millions from for one more season in an Oregon uniform with an opportunity to bestow a lasting legacy.

The sand is in the hourglass is running low for Herbert and the Ducks… If not now, when?

Nix’s hourglass hasn’t been flipped yet. He’s already making history.

Nix will become the first ever true freshman quarterback to start for the Tigers during week one of the modern era. The starter is expected to split some time with backup redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood. However, this is Nix’s chance to make this team and this season his own. Nix’s performance and the game outcome explicitly also effects Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who has been featured on just about every ‘hot seat’ list in the country.

Nix holds the opportunity to start the ‘Bo Nix era’ at Auburn with a bang in front of the entire nation. His career will undoubtedly contain natural comparisons to his father, Patrick Nix who played quarterback for Auburn from 1992-95, while he attempts to get into the conversation with Tiger quarterback greats like Cam Newton (2010), Pat Sullivan (1969-71) and Jason Campbell (2001-04). The window to Nix’s college football career is just opening and his potential legacy is endless.

For Herbert, limited opportunities in an Oregon uniform remain. Time is of the essence for the senior.

The 6-foot-6, 237-pound quarterback with the powerful right arm and sneaky-fast wheels couldn’t leave the Oregon football program with unmet goals. His hunger to come back for another year was partly fueled by his desire to win big for the team he grew up cheering for.

“I don’t think we ended the year last year like I wanted to, we kind of fell off,” Herbert said in an interview with Talkin’ Ducks host Jordan Kent. “At times we were playing really good football and I know we were better than our record says. Coming back, I wanted to finish better.”

His rare talent emerged in his tremendous junior season, where he threw for 3,151 yards, 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions. However, the Ducks fell short of a Pac-12 title and barely squeaked by Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl to get their first bowl game win since 2014. Herbert entered last season as a dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate and ended the season cut from All-Pac-12 teams… Hardly the “mic-drop” accomplishments that Herbert envisioned as a young athlete growing up a Ducks fan.

During his Oregon career, Herbert has overcome a broken collarbone that sidelined him for five games during his sophomore season and unprecedented coaching turnover. The Eugene-Native is the only quarterback in UO history that has played for three different head coaches in three seasons. In his 28 career starts, the Ducks win/loss record is an unimpressive 17-11, which doesn’t match the impressive natural football ability that compels NFL scouts to keep an analyzing eye on Herbert.

In the Herbert era, year-over-year the Ducks have shown progress; winning four games in 2016, seven games in 2017 and nine games in 2018. With Herbert at the helm, Oregon is averaging 38.3 points per game and has big wins over then-ranked No. 11 Utah in 2016, an overtime upset over rival Washington in 2018 and a victory against MSU in the Redbox Bowl.

The improving momentum is apparent and while those wins were significant, they were not legendary. Herbert’s resume is lacking championship recognition needed to be remembered alongside Duck quarterback greats like Marcus Mariota, Joey Harrington, Dan Fouts, Jeremiah Masoli, Darron Thomas, etc.

Entering his fourth season, and second under coach Mario Cristobal, much of Herbert’s legacy is yet to be determined.

The expectations are high. Herbert, who is on most short lists for this season’s Heisman Trophy, was named first-team quarterback in landslide fashion at Pac-12 Media Day. The senior received a first-team nod on 31 of 33 media members ballots.

His teammates gush that Herbert has never been better.

“He can make any throw in the world. I swear, I’ve seen him make every throw and it pisses me off every day,” linebacker Troy Dye said. “It’s super cool to have a quarterback like that because he’s a great leader, a great person and a great friend.”

Herbert enters his final season as a Duck with a streak of 28 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, the longest in the nation. His veteran offensive line is projected to be the best in the country and he utilized the summer break to better connect with his receivers. His leadership skills have grown immensely, altering the perception of his shy personality. He is receiving instruction from legends at his position.

Long story short, Herbert is putting it all together for an epic senior season that could be record shattering.

“He’s exactly what you want on your football team,” Cristobal said. “He acts like he’s a freshman that just got here and is trying to prove something.  He lives each day as if he’s the guy who’s trying to prove that he belongs here. When your best players are doing that, you’ve got a chance to be a good football team."

The Ducks are projected Pac-12 North Division champions. Oregon will have to overcome road battles at Washington, Stanford and USC to get to play for the conference title. If UO emerges atop the Pac-12 with double digit wins including a marquee victory over an SEC team, playoff discussions ensue.

As the Pac-12 Conference’s best shot at the college football playoff, Herbert has the chance to validate his stamp of greatness and accomplish the goals he returned for in his final Oregon football season. It begins Saturday, when the Ducks have a shot at upsetting the Tigers on a national stage behind Herbert’s right arm.

Beating one of the best defensive lines in the country in a rematch of the 2011 BCS National Championship game in prime time… To me, that sounds like a perfectly defining game to add to Herbert’s resume. Get the popcorn ready. 

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 2: Coach’s kids

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 2: Coach’s kids

The season opener between No. 11 Oregon and No. 16 Auburn is beginning to look like the plot of a Disney movie. Two ranked opponents in the national spotlight, led by hometown quarterbacks who have been preparing their entire football career for a moment like this.

A win for the Ducks would mark their first victory over a ranked team in a season opener since Wisconsin in 2001.


Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert and Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix have the opportunity to write the introduction to the 2019 football season. August 31st is the beginning of Herbert’s swan song and the start of Nix’s legacy.

[The plot thickens with Herbert and Nix’s family histories in part one]

Coach’s kids returning to father’s teaching

It wouldn’t be a Disney movie if the stars weren’t the coach’s kids, right? Each quarterback grew up with acute scrutiny as a coach's kid, which helped mature Herbert and Nix into their starting roles at ranked football programs.

Bo Nix is the son of former Auburn quarterback and college football coach Patrick Nix. Patrick Nix left his college coaching career, which included an offensive coordinator role at Miami, to join the high school ranks. He coached his son though all four years of his prep career in which the duo was wildly successful.

Bo Nix set Alabama state records for career total offense and touchdowns, running a similar type of spread offense that Auburn does- sometimes even identical Tigers’ plays. The Nix duo led Pinson Valley to its first ever Class 6A football championship in 2017 and then came back to do it a second time in Bo’s senior season. Bo earned the MVP in both championship games and became “Mr. Alabama Football” as a senior.

Safe to say, Bo Nix has been groomed to take command of the Auburn offense, down to the implementation of his high school playbook.

“Growing up my dad always said everyone’s always watching, no matter where you go, what you’re doing; somebody’s always watching,” Nix said to the Montgomery Advisor. “It’s a big thing to be a quarterback at a big school, and so I’m ready. I know what it brings, and like I said, my dad and mom both went through it, so they have done a good job raising me and teaching me how to handle these situations.”

Saturday marks Nix’s first college football career start, while it’s Herbert’s 29th career start. The two quarterbacks' experience may be different but the preparation to star for their childhood dream school is not.

Before Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels, became a projected top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, he was a the leader of the Sheldon high school ‘Fighting Irish’ and a Ducks fan.

The Eugene-native admired former quarterback Marcus Mariota’s reign among others, but Herbert’s calm and focused demeanor did not come from a sports idol. Herbert’s approach largely came from his father, Mark Herbert, who coached Justin and his two brothers, Mitchell and Patrick, in youth sports.

“My dad had a big part of it,” Herbert said in a Talkin’ Ducks interview with host Jordan Kent. “He was my coach for most of my life so I picked up on things that he said and taught me.”

Mark coached by four principals: Never give up; do your best; always get better; and treat people the way you want to be treated.

Was there a time where Herbert needed his father to remind him of those rules?

“Plenty of times. With your dad being the coach, you can’t really get away with doing too much. He kept me on track,” Herbert said.

Herbert diversified in his athletic career at Sheldon. As a senior, the quarterback was named Southwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He earned first-team 6A all-state honors after passing for 3,130 yards and 37 touchdowns to lead Irish to the 2015 6A state semifinals. That same year in the spring, Herbert hit .400 and earned second-team all-state first baseman honors on the way to becoming a class 6A state baseball champion.

The three-star quarterback recruit had taken to visits to Northern Arizona and Portland State when Herbert got the call from then-Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich with an offer from the program in his backyard.

He didn’t hesitate and neither did his family. 

“I jumped on the bandwagon as soon as I could,” Herbert said.

Herbert knows Autzen Stadium just as well as Nix knows Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. On Saturday, both talents will take their father’s teachings to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. This is where the story narrative differs.

Herbert passed on millions for one more season in an Oregon uniform with an opportunity to bestow a lasting legacy.

If not now, for Herbert and the Ducks… when?

[Part three: Time dwindling for Herbert's lasting legacy]

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 1: History

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 1: History

The season opener between No. 11 Oregon and No. 16 Auburn is beginning to look like the plot of a Disney movie. Two ranked opponents in the national spotlight, led by hometown quarterbacks who have been preparing their entire football career for this moment.

Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert and Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix have the opportunity to write the introduction to the 2019 football season. August 31st is the beginning of Herbert’s swan song and the start of Nix’s legacy.

History

Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 237-pound quarterback with the ability to make any throw is a main reason Oregon is the favorite to win its first Pac-12 title since 2014. Before he was projected as a top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Eugene-native was a Ducks fan, a passion passed down from birth.

“I grew up in a family that was Duck fans for as long as they can remember,” Herbert said in a Talkin’ Ducks interview with host Jordan Kent. “I grew up with a grandfather that went to every single game and played (at Oregon). My parents both love Oregon football and my brothers, so I just assumed I had to be a Duck fan.”

Herbert’s grandfather, Rich Schwab, played receiver at Oregon from 1960-63 and introduced Herbert to Oregon football. Herbert remembers experiencing Autzen Stadium with him. As an 11-year-old, Herbert stood next to Schwab in awe during the 2009 Civil War. 

“One of my favorite games was the Oregon-Oregon State civil war game with Jeremiah Masoli,” Herbert said. “I think it was third or fourth down, late in the game and he ran over a guy. I thought that was really cool.”

Schwab passed away in January of 2018, but his impact is everlasting on his grandson.

When Herbert got the call from then-Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich with an offer from the program in his backyard, he didn’t hesitate. It was a no-brainer to follow in Schwab’s footsteps. In fact, Herbert “didn’t think it was real” until he answered the call in the back of the Sheldon High School parking lot.

“I jumped on the bandwagon as soon as I could,” Herbert said. The three-star prospect had taken visits to Northern Arizona and Portland State.

In contrast, Nix was offered by 18 different schools. However, Alabama’s 2018 High School Player of the Year only had eyes for Auburn. The five-star prospect and top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class never visited any other schools.

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 since birth. (Sound familiar?)

Nix is the first ever true freshman quarterback to start for the Tigers during week one of the modern era. It’s very likely that Oregon will see both Nix and back-up Joey Gatewood at quarterback on August 31. 

Fittingly, Nix’s favorite Auburn memory as a fan includes the Ducks. Nix’s dream to lead Auburn to a national championship intensified while he watched the 2011 BCS National Championship game. From his seat at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, Nix cheered as quarterback Cam Newton and the Tigers defeated the Ducks, 22-19, to win the program’s first national championship game in 63 years.

Nine years later, it almost feels predestined that these two quarterbacks would meet in a nationally televised, primetime game with major legacy and conference implications on the line.

[RELATED: Ducks happy to meet Auburn quarterback Bo Nix in season opener]

The plotline of this Disney movie doesn’t stop there. Neither do the parallels: Both Herbert and Nix were coached by their fathers and will be relying heavily on their father’s advice come August 31 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.  The difference? It’s in the legacy.

[Part two: Coach’s kids groomed for starting roles at childhood dream schools]

[Part three: Time dwindling for Herbert's lasting legacy]

Don't overlook Auburn freshman starting quarterback Bo Nix

Don't overlook Auburn freshman starting quarterback Bo Nix

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.

[READ: Injuries piling for Auburn wide receiving corps]

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.

Talent

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.

Weakness

Scouting reports from scrimmages show that Nix does not have an overpowering arm with a tendency to float long downfield throws.

History

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.

Team effort

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.