Auburn football: 5 numbers I want to see Bo Nix hit in 2020
Bo Nix had a good — not great — freshman season as Auburn’s starting quarterback. Despite being a first-year player, the former Pinson Valley standout helped lead the Tigers to a 9-4 record while being named SEC Freshman of the Year over LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
With all that being said, there is still plenty of room for improvement for the rising sophomore. Yes, the 10-game, all-conference schedule will make hitting statistical thresholds all the more difficult, but there are 5 numbers that I would love to see Nix hit in Year 2.
1. Touchdown passes
Throwing 16 touchdown passes in the SEC as a true freshman is fairly impressive. Nix set a freshman program record, after all, but there’s room to grow. Jake Fromm, for instance, threw 24 TD passes as a true freshman for Georgia in 2017. Jalen Hurts threw 23 as a true freshman at Alabama in 2016.
Still, Nix’s 16 TDs tied him with Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano for No. 6 in the conference last season.
Now it’s time for Nix to take the next step. But like with a lot of these statistical goals, it might be difficult even matching the 2019 number due to the 2-game decrease in regular-season games.
With all that in mind, it is still possible for Nix to increase those 16 passing touchdowns from 2019. Averaging only 2 passing touchdowns during the regular season would put Nix over 20 for 2020, a difficult — but not completely unrealistic — number.
Last season, only 3 SEC quarterbacks averaged 2 or more passing touchdowns per game:
- Joe Burrow (LSU): 4.0 (60 total)
- Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama): 3.7 (33)
- Kyle Trask (Florida): 2.1 (25)
Can Nix hit that mark? Well, considering his pedigree as a former five-star prospect and the weapons he will have at his disposal in the passing game, it’s absolutely possible.
2020 goal: 20 touchdown passes
2. Completion percentage
One specific area that Nix struggled with last season was completion percentage. The lack of consistency with his accuracy was a major issue at times, and it’s something that the Auburn quarterback will want to drastically improve this season.
Nix completed 217 of 377 attempts (57.6%). He ranked No. 10 in the SEC in that category, even trailing Vanderbilt’s Riley Neal.
Obviously this stat won’t necessarily be affected by a shortened season, but the difficulty of the schedule could play a role. As a result, I altered the original goal from 65% down to 63.
That might not seem like a necessary change, but the days of going 12-of-16 (75 percent) against Kent State won’t be an option this season to pad the numbers. Exactly 41 FBS quarterbacks completed at least 63% of their passes in 2019 — essentially the top third of the country.
Can Nix finish in the top third of the country? That’s the goal.
2020 goal: 63 percent
3. Yards per attempt
Yards per attempt was another area that Nix struggled last season. Obviously, that number improves if more balls are caught. But some of that was due to a lack of a downfield passing attack. On the season, Nix averaged only 6.7 yards per attempt, which ranked No. 9 in the SEC and tied for No. 88 in the country.
There is some good news.
Nix averaged 11.7 yards per completion last season. That was in the neighborhood of Florida’s Kyle Trask (12.4) and Georgia’s Jake Fromm (12.2).
The good news is that Nix will be trusted to push the ball downfield more in Year 2. He’ll also have a receiver who can win deep with speed in Anthony Schwartz — as long as he’s utilized properly — and a receiver who can go up and win 50-50 balls in Seth Williams.
New offensive coordinator Chad Morris should also help in this area.
The yards per attempt goal for Nix in 2020 will be a steep increase. In fact, I’m setting the goal at 8.2 yards, which is exactly a 1.5-yard increase from last season. That would, more than likely, put him at or around the top 25-30 in that statistical category.
2020 goal: 8.2 yards per attempt
4. Total yards
Total yardage is another area that might be difficult to improve this season due to fewer games. With that being said, Nix has plenty of room for growth after only totaling 2,855 yards (2,542 passing, 313 rushing) in 13 games. That’s only 219.6 yards per game.
Locking in a goal of 3,000 yards might not seem like a drastic increase because it’s only 145 yards more than he had as a freshman, but it’s way different considering it will be 12 games at the most. If Auburn is only able to play the 10 regular-season games, that would be 300 yards per game, an increase of 80.4 yards from 2019.
This will not be an easy task, but like I’ve mentioned, there is plenty of room for improvement from the 6-2, 213-pound dual-threat.
2020 goal: 3,000 total yards
5. Win percentage
One of Nix’s more impressive feats as a first-year player was winning games. It didn’t always look pretty, but he managed to get important victories against Oregon, Texas A&M and in-state rival Alabama. On the season, Auburn posted a 9-4 record (.692 win percentage).
That won’t be easy to outdo in a 10-game, conference-only schedule, so I’m not going to as Nix to help his team improve that mark by much. But with that being said, the Tigers can go 7-3 (.700) during the regular season and beat that mark, but then it might come down to any postseason play to determine whether it sticks.
2020 goal: .700 win percentage