Nix Elevates Tigers Over Razorbacks


Takeaways from Auburn’s Win Against Arkansas


While Auburn was far from perfect against No. 17 Arkansas on Saturday, big plays courtesy of Bo Nix and his right arm were enough to down the hometown Razorbacks 38-23.

The Tigers still control their own destiny in terms of achieving a SEC-west title, and the performance Saturday looked to be the best yet under first-year head coach Bryan Harsin.

With a bye week upcoming and then a matchup against the high-powered Ole Miss offense on Oct. 30, the following breaks down the good, bad and ugly (spoiler alert: there is no ugly) from Auburn’s showing on Saturday and looks forward to what the Tigers can achieve by year’s end.



Nix may have played his best game in an orange and blue jersey on Saturday. He entrenched himself as a top-3 quarterback in the toughest conference in football — only Ole Miss’s Matt Corral and Alabama’s Bryce Young could lay claim to higher spots — and repeatedly made important throws to either take the top off the Arkansas secondary or finish calculated drives. Prior to the game, the narrative on Nix was that he struggles on the road and is — if we put it politely — less than comfortable passing from the pocket. Against the Razorbacks, Nix looked composed, rarely turning to his legs to make a play and completing 21-of-26 passes for two touchdowns, including a 71-yard TD (from the pocket) bomb to Demetrius Robertson in the third quarter. He still managed to keep the defense honest with his legs too, however, rushing for an additional 44 yards and 1 TD on the ground. The narrative has almost completely flipped from three weeks ago when the junior was benched against a subpar Georgia State team, and if Nix plays up to Saturday’s caliber for the rest of season, the Tigers should have a chance to win any ball game they are in.


Ten different players caught a ball for Auburn against the Razorbacks. Credit goes to the under-scrutiny offensive coordinator for the Tigers, Mike Bobo, as he spread the Arkansas second and third units thin and gave Nix the opportunity to operate with bountiful — and clear — options on every play. The emergence of Kobi Hudson is real, Robinson is a legit deep threat, Shedrick Jackson looks like a relatively safe, big option and, furthermore, we saw a refreshing under reliance on tight end John Samuel Shenker, with three other tight ends (Luke Deal, Tyler Fromm and Landen King) all getting on the stat sheet with receptions. Drops have been a big issue for the Tigers, and they only had two on Saturday. The corps may be lacking in stud options, but the Tigers proved Saturday that there is quality depth at such a languished position.


Let’s list them off. Against Arkansas: Edge rusher Derrick Hall has his first forced fumble which interior lineman Marcus Harris recovered in the end zone for an Auburn touchdown; linebacker Zakoby McClain registered his 11th game in orange-and-blue where he recorded double digit tackles (15); Chandler Wooten (starting in place of the injured Owen Pappoe) registered his third career game with double digit tackles; Chandler Wooden had two sacks and was named the SEC’s co-defensive lineman of the week; and transfer defensive end Eku Leota added another tackle for loss, adding up to seven already on the season.  All of these guys had massive days for Auburn against Arkansas. Point is, while the days of Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson are long gone, the two front units on Auburn defensive coordinator Derek Mason’s defense boast both depth and quality playmakers.


1. MIDDLE OF THE PACK O-LINE                           

Auburn’s offensive line helped the Tigers achieve a 3.9-yards-per-carry mark on Saturday — which is not terrible. And although they only allowed just two pressures on Nix the whole game (allowed 29 in the previous two games against LSU and Georgia) according to PFF, the big letdown of the game came in Auburn’s rushing attack. The Tigers boast two elite running options in sophomore Tank Bigsby and freshman Jarquez Hunter — and senior Shaun Shivers has to be one of the best backs in the country among those relegated to a niche role. Still, however, Saturday’s 135-yard rushing output against an Arkansas defense that on paper is susceptible to the run, proved one thing: this offensive line is average. The absence of starter Austin Troxell should be noted, but his replacement Killian Zierer hardly put a foot wrong. Harsin speaks about establishing the run after nearly every game, but the simple fact is that this offensive line does not get much push and the Tigers are better suited with quick passes from Nix.


Ahh, the pass defense. Coming into the season, Auburn’s secondary looked to be its strongest unit, with the group coming up in pre-season SEC-best talk. Seven games into the season, that has been far from the case, however. Roger McCreary has been a big disappointment, although he consistently is matched up with the opponent’s best WR (Arkansas’s Treylon Burks caught 9-of-10 passes for 109 yards and two TD’s Saturday.). And ingoring Smoke Monday, the unit’s stats look decrepit in terms of impact plays and turnovers. Chalk it up to Mason’s scheme being difficult to learn, or whatever other logic you can find, but the secondary has been Auburn’s biggest disappointment this season and its biggest liabilities against potent offenses.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here