If Auburn is going to remain among the SEC contenders this season, Bo Nix needs to take a big step forward in Chad Morris’ offense.

Based on what Gus Malzahn had to say about his sophomore quarterback following Auburn’s second scrimmage of training camp, Tiger fans should feel confident that’s exactly what’s going to happen down on The Plains.

Here is what Auburn’s coach had to say when asked about Nix’s performance in the scrimmage and his progression from this time last year when Nix was simply trying to win the starting job in his first college training camp.

“Well, first of all, a year ago to now is completely different. He’s got a lot better understanding of not only defenses but the college game, and everything that goes with it. You can tell he’s more confident,” Malzahn said of Nix. “From an offensive standpoint, not just Bo – but the rest of our offense, there has been an acceleration of install. So we’ve installed a whole lot faster than we normally would.

“But I think he’s got a good grasp of what Coach Morris is asking, and we weren’t able to go through spring, and like I said, this was just the 10th practice and so those guys are still getting used to each other. One thing too that we’re doing a little bit differently in the past, the guys are moving around a lot different in different places on the field and all that. So they’re just in the process of getting their timing down and you can see each practice that getting better.”

Several Auburn players have praised Nix for his development off the field, in terms of leadership and being more vocal on the field.

Those sentiments were echoed by Malzahn when asked if he’s seen the same thing in his starting quarterback.

“You know, I think that’s a fair assessment,” Malzahn said. “Just more – he’s a lot more vocal than he was anytime last year. He’s really trying to lead. Last year, he was a true freshman. We had a lot of veteran guys, offensively and defensively.

“This year, we don’t have as many veteran guys and so, not only from a quarterback standpoint, but also a team leadership standpoint, he’s trying to use his influence that way, too.”

That’s the first step, now if that translates to the field on Saturdays, Auburn could be the surprise of the SEC this fall with Nix being the catalyst for a big season.

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