Bo Nix had a pretty impressive season at Auburn after winning the starting job in his true freshman season. The QB completed 57.6% of his passed for 2542 yards and 16 touchdowns, helping the Tigers to a 9-4 season. With a full year under his belt, Nix looks to improve off of his freshman season in his sophomore campaign. But that is easier said than done. Here are the four reasons I believe Bo Nix’s numbers will regress in 2020.
4. He has been seen
Coming in as a true freshman, there was not much known about Nix’s style of play. Sure, you can look at high school scouting reports and game film, but you have to take that with a grain of salt – to compare Alabama high school football to the SEC West is to compare apples to oranges. So to prepare for Nix under center was difficult, especially at the beginning of the season. But now Nix has a full season of play that can be watched on film. 13 full games with 8 of them in SEC play. Teams can now see what worked against Nix and what didn’t which will hurt his numbers in 2020.
3. The Schedule
In 2019 Nix and the Tigers really struggled away from Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn was just 2-2 on the road with those wins against Texas A&M, a game where Nix threw for just 100 yards, and a very bad Arkansas team. They did beat #11 Oregon at a neutral site, but that was in the season opener, and Nix threw for just 177 yards and 2 interceptions. On the road, the Tigers lost to Florida, LSU, and Minnesota in the Outback Bowl at a neutral site, all games where Nix threw for less than 200 yards. In 2020 Auburn schedule flips and now War Eagle has to play Georgia, Alabama, and an interesting Mississippi State squad on the road, as well as an up and coming North Carolina team at a neutral site. Given Nix’s road struggles in 2019, he’s facing an uphill battle in 2020.
2. The Offensive Line
In 2019, Nix was one of the most protected quarterbacks in all of college football. The Auburn O-line only allowed 18 sacks in their 13 games, which was tied for 18th best in the FBS. The only problem: four out of their five starters in the trenches were seniors. Starting center Nick Brahmas is the only returner from last year’s unit, and he only won the job in week 10. Now with four first-year starters blocking for him, Nix will likely have to worry more about escaping pressure than finding receivers downfield. An inexperienced offensive line is certainly a problem for any young quarterback, but especially in the SEC West where defense reigns supreme.
1: Auburn is a run-first offense
It is really no secret that Gus Malzahn wants to run the football. Since Malzahn took over the program in 2013, the Tigers have rushed for over 3000 yards in 4 out of 7 seasons. Their worst rushing season under Malazahn was in 2018, when the Tigers rushed for just 2177 yards, which was 10th in the conference. Last season, Auburn improved that number, rushing for 2588 yards, good enough for 4th in the SEC. In 2020, with an improving back in JaTarvious Whitlow, who had an excellent sophomore campaign, rushing for 798 yards in 11 games, the Tigers figure to keep the ball on the ground more frequently, giving Nix fewer chances to shine with his arm.