Spring practice is always a time of new life and energy on the gridiron, and that holds true for the Tigers, who are looking to rejuvenate the Auburn football program under first-year head coach Bryan Harsin.
Junior quarterback Bo Nix, the likely starter for the third-straight season, is taking an optimistic, work-centered approach to preparing for the upcoming season.
“We are extremely excited and looking forward to the future,” said Nix. “Change brings opportunity and you can look down on that or look forward to the future.”
The biggest change for Nix this offseason has been the coaching staff. With Mike Bobo coming in under the Harsin regime, Nix will have to adjust to his third offensive coordinator in as many years. Despite the challenge of adjusting to a new coach each year, Nix looks at the rotating door as a challenge that is helping him adjust for a future in football.
“You know coaches move around," he said. "That's the nature of the business so I think it's good to learn now so I won't be shaken up later.”
As the new staff moves in and begins forming relationships with the players, Nix said that he has been pleased with the first few months under Harsin and Bobo.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know those guys as far as what they bring to the table,” said Nix. “They’ve been around college football and they know what it's about. I'm excited to try some new things and I’m sure they’ll put me in good situations to succeed.”
Nix also had high praise for Harsin himself, remarking on how much effort the coach has put into relationships with the players and how much Harsin has been able to relate to Nix.
“He's done a good job of being in constant communication with us," he said. "He’s very open and a very personal and relational guy. I think he went through four different coaches when he was a player, which is a lot, so I think he knows what we are going through which is huge.”
When Harsin first arrived on the Plains, he emphasized that spring was the perfect opportunity to set the new culture and that seems to be exactly what he has done.
“He has come in very passionate and relentless,” said Nix. “He is very attentive to detail, which I think is good.”
For the past few years, Nix, although under different coordinators, has been playing under the Malzahn offense. Now with Bobo working with Harsin on a more balanced and multiple formation style of offense, Nix has had to learn a completely different style of play. The transition hasn’t been too strenuous according to Nix.
“It's different obviously," he said. "We have some carry-over because a football play is a football play. It's just learning those different things. We may go under center some more than you’re used to but at the end of the day you’re either running or throwing so we just need to execute.”
Nix has had similar stats for the first two years of his college career, passing for roughly 2,500 yards in each season with 12 touchdowns his first season and 16 during his sophomore campaign.
He threw six interceptions his first season and compared to seven his second. Nix also rushed for roughly 300 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two seasons.
Many Auburn fans have questioned Nix’s progression from year one to year two, with some coming to the conclusion that he is not good enough to be the starter. Nix said that he doesn’t have time to listen to the people who doubt his ability to progress moving forward.
“There's nothing you can do about it,” said Nix. “People will always have something to say about you — positive or negative. There's nothing you can do but continue to work and keep your head down and do what you’re supposed to do. “
While he may not listen to doubters, Nix is also not complacent, knowing that he has plenty he can improve upon.
“I want to be consistent, especially from the pocket," he said. "Obviously, we have new receivers, so gauging those guys and getting on the same page with them. I feel like this spring will be good because last spring we didn’t have that. So improving on setting my feet and getting on page with these receivers.”
With veteran receivers like Seth Williams, Anthony Schwartz and Eli Stove out of the picture, Nix has a lot of new receivers that he has to adjust to, but he is proud of what he has seen from the group.
“Those guys are extremely competitive like I am so whatever it’ll take to improve," he said. "I have to be there for them and put the ball where it's supposed to be.”
Nix realizes that this season will look much different than any before but that is something the veteran quarterback is looking forward to
“Change is difficult, change is hard to go through," he said. "But sometimes if you can take advantage of it, you can be better on the other end of it.”