If anything, Saturday’s scrimmage proved that head coach Gus Malzahn is going to have a tough time deciding who will be leading the Auburn football team in the fall because both Bo Nix and Joey Gatewood proved themselves worthy of the position.
Let’s start with Nix, the son of former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix. The true freshman was 11 of 17 passing for 155 yards and two touchdowns. His longest pass was a 49 yard touchdown toss to Matthew Hill before halftime.
Nix also impressed the crowd with his dual-threat running ability too. The Pinson Valley High School graduate rushed for 16 yards and could have had more yards if he didn’t have a non-contact jersey on.
Coming into spring practices, many thought Nix might be the man to beat, but what we didn’t realize is how good Joey Gatewood really is.
The redshirt freshman stole the show from Nix and got a few folks thinking that he may be college football’s next Cam Newton. At least, that’s what a few of his teammates were saying after Saturday’s scrimmage.
“I’m telling you,” wide receiver Seth Williams said to 247Sports. “He’s another Cam Newton back there. Once he gets live, he turns into a whole other person. Like, you couldn’t see it for real with this spring, with the scrimmage, the QBs not live —but once they’re live, I don’t think, [the defense] can’t get back there.”
Now that is high praise for a guy who has yet to play full-time at the quarterback position at Auburn. Gatewood threw for a 130 yards and two touchdowns.
Gatewood’s play may have come as a surprise to some, but many saw a glimpse of what he could be in the Tigers blowout victory over Purdue in the Music City Bowl last year. Gatewood poses a dangerous threat to Nix who many thought may be leading the pack after the spring.
The surprise in all of this was the backup quarterback from last season, Malik Willis, who was barely mentioned after Saturday’s game. Willis did a nice job and showed leadership and poise at times on the field. But you have to wonder where does he stand in all of this? Surely, Malzahn won’t overlook his abilities, his leadership and experience no matter how Gatewood and Nix looked.
The talent at the top of the depth chart in Auburn, Alabama will likely keep Cord Sandberg as a reserve once again as he transitions from professional baseball to SEC football.
The good news for Gus Malzahn is he has possibly three viable candidates to start at quarterback in the fall. The bad news, if you want to call it that, is he may be leaving two talented quarterbacks on the bench, too.