If Bo Nix really is turning the corner, well, Georgia will tell us everything we need to know about that
Two things can be true at the same time.
One is that up until this past Saturday, it was perfectly fair to think that Bo Nix’s chances of being one of the league’s top starting quarterbacks had passed. Somewhere between watching the panicked true freshman who insisted on unnecessarily throwing on the run and the Chad Morris experience, it was natural to bail on Nix living up to that 5-star hype.
The other thing that can also be true is that what Nix did in Death Valley was special. Like, more special than beating Alabama (with the aid of 2 pick-sixes from the Auburn defense) or beating Oregon at a neutral site (with the aid of Auburn’s defense shutting down Justin Herbert). Nix did his best Johnny Manziel imitation and led Auburn to its first win at LSU since 1999.
So if both of those things are true, what are we to expect of Nix moving forward? Has he turned the corner? Or was LSU an out-of-body experience?
We don’t have an answer to that question. We do, however, know that if Nix comes out against Georgia and looks more LSU than, um, Georgia State, then, yeah, he may have indeed turned the corner.
It’s sort of like how if you’re trying to diet, the ultimate test is when you know you’re gonna drive past your favorite fast food restaurant on your way home from work. If you are indeed committed to the diet, you’ll keep driving. If you’re not, you’ll find yourself in the drive-thru ordering a double bacon cheeseburger and fries.
On Saturday, Nix is going to do his best to not take a sharp left turn into the drive-thru.
Old habits die hard. If there’s anyone who can force Nix into his old habits, it’s this Georgia defense, which has allowed 1 offensive touchdown all year. As in, the Georgia defense who has yet to allow an offensive touchdown this season with the first-teamers are on the field (South Carolina scored down 40-6 in the 4th quarter).
As in, the Georgia defense who had Nix’s number in every way the last 2 years.
With the exception of that 4th quarter rally 2 years ago in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, Nix has been extremely limited against the Dawgs. In those 2 games, Nix:
- A) Averaged 4.7 yards per pass attempt
- B) Led his team to an average of 10 points
- C) Had 0 pass plays of 30 yards
- D) Was responsible for 2 touchdowns
- E) All the above
It’s “E.” It’s always “E.”
You can blame the system or the offensive line if you want. Or you can acknowledge that while those elements didn’t exactly help Nix against Kirby Smart’s defense, his decision-making needed to be much better to win against a team of Georgia’s caliber.
It’s not really a debate as to whether Nix will have to improvise against Georgia. It’s just about the decisions he makes when he does.
This all-time play, which only few people in college football are physically capable of, will surely be shown during Saturday’s broadcast:
Bo Nix holy crap pic.twitter.com/CQgLdgy4gb
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 3, 2021
Not to take anything away from that play, but Georgia’s defense doesn’t ever have 6 guys whiff on a quarterback. Jordan Davis is built differently than anyone on the LSU roster. Shoot, he’s built differently than anyone in college football. Nix said that Auburn couldn’t really simulate Davis because “there’s not many 6-6, 350-pound guys walking around.”
He’s not wrong about that. There aren’t many guys like Nakobe Dean walking around, either. Ask KJ Jefferson about that.
Nakobe Dean might be the best blitzer in the country. Times the snap to perfection and shoots out of a cannon across Stromberg’s face and gets under him. pic.twitter.com/UyGsVP2wMb
— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) October 4, 2021
Dean and Quay Walker were Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded linebackers in America in Week 5. That was against a respected Arkansas offensive line, too. Like, a Sam Pittman-coached offensive line.
Auburn, on the other hand, has had some issues up front. Nix was a wizard against LSU, but would he have needed magical abilities all night had the protection held? I mean, @SEC_StatCat had Nix charted for 13 broken tackles on plays outside of structure against LSU. Has Georgia missed 13 tackles all season?
Also, Georgia State and Georgia might partially share a name, but you won’t be confusing their defensive lines anytime soon. The former, in case you forgot, gave the Tigers front everything it could handle. Shoot, even TJ Finley’s miraculous play to win it came after protection broke down.
Look. Nobody is breaking any news here by saying that Auburn’s offensive line is going to have to play the game of its life to have a chance against Georgia. Even the most loyal Nix supporters can admit that if that doesn’t happen, he really doesn’t stand much of a chance to — dare I say — score multiple touchdowns against the Georgia defense.
Forget scoring 2 touchdowns. UGA’s defense hasn’t allowed a point in its last 26 possessions. According to The Athletic, it has a stop rate of 93%.
Go figure that Nix is facing the best defense of his career just a week removed from the best performance of his career. Ironic, to say the least.
How else would this go? Rece Davis called Nix’s career a ride at the carnival. As in, not in a good way. He’s part of the traveling carnival. The one that can break down at a moment’s notice or provide the ultimate thrill. You never really know what you’re gonna get.
Most people outside of Auburn might think they know what they’re gonna get from Nix against Georgia on Saturday. Maybe the ride will break down and Nix will continue to be exactly what Davis (and others) described him as. Or perhaps more exhilarating times await.
Whatever the case, Nix is nearing his favorite restaurant; time will tell if he walks out of Jordan-Hare with an armful of burgers and fries.