For the first time in 73 years a true freshman quarterback will take the reins for Auburn in its first game of the year.
Malzahn announced Tuesday that Bo Nix edged out fellow freshman quarterback Joey Gatewood due to Nix’s “attention to detail” and his “rare grasp” of football as a whole.
Malzahn has never started a true freshman QB in an opener in his coaching career,
“We have two quarterbacks we think we can win with,” head coach Gus Malzahn said. “But at the end of the day Bo Nix won the competition. He did a good job with his attention to detail and everything that goes with that. … Our team was very excited.”
Nix was labeled as a more polished passer over Gatewood, while Gatewood was given the edge in the running game. Nix was given immense credit by his coach for his mobility, however, saying Nix is “faster than people give him credit for.”
Nix ran a similar type of spread offense at his high school in Pinson Valley, Alabama, that Auburn does. Nix also admitted that his high school football coach — his father, former Auburn QB Patrick Nix (1992-95) — would copy some of Auburn’s plays for Nix to run.
“(Nix) is not your normal freshman,” Malzahn said. “He earned the starting quarterback job. He had a really good fall camp and there’s a lot of intangibles that go with that. At the end of the day the consistency … gives us a good chance to be successful.”
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With Nix being QB1 and Gatewood being labeled as the backup, the question arises as to what the former 4-star prospect from Jacksonville, Florida, will do for the team going forward.
“We have two quarterbacks we feel like we can win with,” Malzahn said. “He’s going to help us win this year, there’s no doubt in my mind. Joey is a competitor.”
Added Malzahn on the subject of specific packages for Gatewood in the offense: "I'm not ready to say that right now."
Nix will be leading his team against No. 11 Oregon, which is led by quarterback Justin Herbert. The senior from Eugene has been labeled by many as the potential first quarterback taken in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Nix and the rest of the Tiger squad kick off in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, against the Ducks on Aug. 31.
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