Following Anthony Brown’s departure, the Oregon quarterback job looked to be settled via an in-house promotion: two blue-chip talents set to compete in Jay Butterfield and Ty Thompson. However, the NCAA transfer portal quickly threw a wrench into Head Coach Dan Lanning’s process. Enter Bo Nix, an Auburn transfer with 34 career starts in the SEC.
A senior with a dual-focus tailored toward his immediate impact for the Ducks and his 2023 NFL Draft stock, Nix looks to be ‘the guy’ as Oregon approaches the start of camp next week. A face many Oregon fans are familiar with following his desperation touchdown heave to beat the Ducks in the 2019 season opener, following the firing of Tigers’ Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo this offseason, Nix has made the trip up north in hopes of quickly re-gaining traction in his collegiate career.
Although Lanning has yet to officially name a starter nearly a month away from their opener against Georgia, it seems as if the job is Nix’s to lose after receiving a majority of the work with the starters during the spring.
Now under the tutelage of Kenny Dillingham, who coached Nix as a freshman at Auburn, their long-stemming relationship is something Lanning hopes could present a reason for optimism within an overhauled offense that includes the departures of running backs Travis Dye (transfer) and CJ Verdell (NFL). While the two aforementioned ball carriers shouldered the Ducks’ offense during their time in Eugene, an enticing group of pass-catching options should further diversify Oregon’s attack. While Dillingham was annually faced with limited athletes on the perimeter during his time with Florida State, and both Devon Williams (35 catches for 557 yards) and Johnny Johnson (25 catches for 311 yards) are gone for the Ducks, they return a youth-infused core that should—at a minimum—allow Oregon to extend defenses and take shots downfield.
At the X, Y, and Z spots within their offense, the Ducks are expected to field one of the country’s youngest groups of pass-catchers. Sophomores Troy Franklin, Dont’e Thornton, Seven McGee, and Kris Hutson are all expected to holster targets this fall, and an influx of fresh legs on the outside could present opposing defenses headaches to counter for 60 minutes.
However, as young and exciting as Oregon’s pass catchers are, their tight ends unit showcases an intriguing tandem of athletes for Nix as well. Headlined by two more sophomores in Terrance Ferguson and Moliki Matavao, who will be looked upon to step up following the unthinkable tragedy to Spencer Webb, each athlete possesses the traits to create separation at the second level. While they could blossom into substantial targets in the passing game down the line, sure hands over the intermediate areas of the offense are always welcomed—and at 6-foot-6 a pop, they look the part.
A talent with the expectations to thrive immediately this fall, Bo Nix remains one of the more tricky evaluations in the college game. While his numbers at Auburn fail to pop off the page, and he will face his fair share of speed bumps as he gets acclimated to his surroundings in Eugene, the dual-threat signal-caller should be able to maintain the double-digit win standard for Oregon this fall.
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