Recently, I told someone that in Bo Nix I felt Auburn had signed its best quarterback out of high school since Pat Sullivan in the late 1960s (“out of high school” would eliminate Cam Newton, since he was a transfer).
When Sullivan quarterbacked here, true freshmen were not allowed to play with the varsity, but based upon his performance with the freshman team and as a sophomore, I believe he would have been ready to compete at a high level with the varsity, even in the rough and tumble SEC.
Nix will play as a true freshman but there is justifiable concern whether he is ready. I believe he will perform well, although fans can expect some growing pains.
Nix has trained for and dreamed of this moment all his life. He grew up an Auburn man after his father was a very successful quarterback here.
People think of Patrick Nix as being a state champion high school coach, which he is, but he also was an offensive coordinator and coached quarterbacks at two major college powers — Georgia Tech and Miami. Thus, he certainly possessed the skills to coach his son up.
Moreover, Bo Nix will have a good supporting cast, including top flight offensive and defensive lines, as well as seasoned running backs.
But regardless of how well Nix and others perform, Auburn, currently ranked No. 16 in the nation, must face a murderous schedule, starting with No. 11 Oregon Saturday night.
About this time each year, I take a point of personal privilege to make my prognostications for the year. One caveat: My predictions tend to be optimistic toward Auburn’s chances, so do not bet the house, or anything else, on them.
I suspect that first game will be very close for about two-and-a-half quarters, before Auburn’s monstrous defensive line takes over. In the end, Auburn should win by about a touchdown.
The next two games, against Tulane and Kent State, are breathers at home. But afterwards comes a tough road test at Florida, against a team that is among the favorites in the SEC East this season and which beat Miami to kick off the season. Auburn has sort of had Florida’s number in meaningful games for a number of years, so this could be a big one for the season.
After taking care of Arkansas and Mississippi State at home, Auburn must travel to face an LSU team Oct. 26 that has sort of had Auburn’s number, especially in Baton Rouge. Until Auburn proves it can beat the boys from the bayou down there, I am not going to predict that it will.
I will say that I do not believe that Auburn will blow a 20-point second half lead as it did two years ago or miss five field goals, any one of which would have won the game, as it did another year. Or that Auburn will get two pass interference calls on the last drive leading to an LSU last second field goal, as happened last year in Auburn.
Surprisingly, Danny Sheridan, the Bama grad prognosticator and perennial Auburn basher, has already predicted Auburn will win the “revenge game” against LSU. I will just say I hope he is right, because that would be a huge win for Auburn.
After dispatching a hapless Ole Miss team at home on Nov. 2, Auburn gets into what Coach Pat Dye used to call “Amen Corner.” The good news is that both Georgia and Alabama must come to Jordan-Hare this year, as they did two years ago when Auburn beat them, although both were at the time ranked first in the nation.
The other good news is that Auburn has a breather game at home on Nov. 23 against Samford, sandwiched between those games. Further, Nix will have almost a full year under his belt by that point in the season and should not be playing like a true freshman. And I suspect his talented backup, Joey Gatewood, also will have seen considerable action by then.
I am going to go out on a limb and predict Auburn will beat both Georgia and Alabama again to capture the SEC West. Hey, I noted that my predictions tend to be optimistic.
Retired Auburn Attorney Don Eddins is publisher of The Auburn Villager newspaper and the online publication, auburnvillager.com. Before going into law, he was state Capitol reporter for The Huntsville Times and state editor for The Columbus Ledger. In college, he was sports editor of The Auburn Plainsman. Email him your comments about the newspaper to email@example.com.