Auburn quarterback Bo Nix certainly picked some good company to hang out with during his spring break. Before the world essentially shut down due to COVID-19, Nix was able to board a plane and fly out to the west coast to get in some spring break training sessions with a few guys who know a thing or two about tossing around the pigskin.
Nix spent his spring break working with private quarterback coach Jordan Palmer. Palmer has built a respectable list of clients over the years as a private instructor. Among the coaches who have worked with Palmer include Super Bowl champion and former Texas Tech Red Raider Patrick Mahomes, former Clemson standout Deshaun Watson, and former Cal quarterback Jared Goff. Two other quarterbacks working with Palmer at the time Nix was was with him were former USC quarterback Sam Darnold and last year’s Heisman Trophy winner from LSU, Joe Burrow.
“Just going out there, obviously you can learn so much from them and you can soak up so much knowledge from them and how they play the game and just how to go about playing quarterback on a level like that,” Nix said when speaking with the media during a conference call this week, according to Al.com.
Nix passed for 2,366 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 301 yards and seven touchdowns in his freshman season as Auburn’s starting quarterback from the start. Taking the opportunity to work with a couple of other quarterbacks who have gone on to be high NFL draft picks (Darnold was No. 3 overall in 2018 and Burrow is expected to be a possible No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft) is a terrific learning experience for any quarterback, especially one so fresh into his career.
This likely doesn’t mean Nix is about to be the runaway Heisman Trophy favorite in 2020, but Auburn fans should be looking forward to a good season of growth from their starting quarterback this fall.
WHO: No. 20 LSU (8-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
WHAT: The 10th AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
WHERE: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
WHEN: 9:00 p.m. ET, Dec. 29 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Through the first two months of this college football season it looked as though LSU might be on the run to an SEC title and a top spot in the College Football Playoff behind a Heisman Trophy runaway favorite in Leonard Fournette., That championship dream derailed in Tuscaloosa in early November and struggled to recover from the wreckage. Fournette’s Heisman hopes and expectations were tossed to the side as LSU was handed a loss in three straight SEC games by Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss before finally ending the season with a win against Texas A&M. The win against the Aggies also proved to be a revival of sorts for head coach Les Miles, who managed to keep his job amid growing speculation he was as good as cooked in Baton Rouge.
Texas Tech turned in a solid season under Kliff Kingsbury using that signature Texas Tech air-raid approach. Texas Tech was second in the nation in passing yards per game (389.7 ypg, trailing only former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and Washington State), Patrick Mahomes passing for 4,283 yards and 32 touchdowns. The Red Raiders ranked second in the nation in points per game as well, putting up 46.6 ppg this season. As has historically been the case for the program though, the defense has not held up its end of the bargain far too often to take Texas Tech as a serious threat. Texas Tech allowed an average of 42.6 yards per game and is 126th against the run, allowing 271.83 yards per game on the ground. That just spells out a nightmare scenario for the Red Raiders, who must now stop one of the nation’s most productive running backs.
LSU’s running game should be the key factor here. Texas Tech can’t stop the run and LSU thrives on it. LSU is also hoping to avoid falling out of the top25 in the major polls. A loss to Texas Tech would likely assure LSU a second straight season ranked outside the top 25 at the end of the season, and that hasn’t happened since Gerry DiNardo was the head coach in 1998 and 1999. The following year, LSU hired Nick Saban and things worked out pretty well from there.
THE PREDICTION: LSU 38, Texas Tech 27
With LSU and Texas Tech preparing for the upcoming AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl in Houston, the Tigers and Red Raiders had some competitive fun in an annual rodeo series of events. One popular rodeo event? Chasing cows. LSU’s star running back, Leonard Fournette, wanted to give it a shot, but his head coach, Les Miles, apparently was no on board.
Texas Tech running back Jakeem Grant did reportedly give the cow chasing a try, and Fournette wanted to see what he could do. Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes was not witnessed participating in any of the rodeo events either.
Fournette figures to be in for a huge performance against Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl. Only two teams in the nation had a run defense allow more yards per game than Texas Tech, which likely means Fournette should pile up some big numbers. With that being the case, you can imagine why Miles wanted to make sure his top offensive player avoided any event that might cause even the slightest injury concern that would prevent Fournette from running.
For just the second time since 1998, the Texas Longhorns will not be going to a bowl game this season. A home loss to Texas Tech sealed a winless season for the Longhorns, leaving them at the mercy of a waiting list to get in if they happen to pull a stunner against Baylor in the season finale to go 5-7 and hope there are bowl vacancies to be filled. In other words, don’t count on it. The fate of the Longhorns this season may have been expected for weeks or months, but the final nail in the coffin may be have delivered by a Texas Tech trick play that saw Jakeem Grant sneak down the left sideline and dodge a couple of defenders on his way to a 40-yard touchdown, which would prove to be the game-winning score.
Up 41-38, Texas Tech forced a Texas turnover on downs at the 40-yard line of the Longhorns with 2:51 to play. Despite Texas having a couple of timeouts to spare, Texas Tech appeared to line up in a victory formation. Perhaps inspired by the fumblerooski, Kliff Kingsbury had his offense set in a formation that would make it difficult to tell which player had the football until it was too late. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes dropped back deep and appeared to fake a hand-off on his way. Meanwhile, Grant was running with the ball to the left side of the field and found daylight. In the blink of an eye, Texas Tech expanded its lead to 48-38.
Texas still found a way to make Texas Tech sweat it out though. Daje Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 42-yards and received an extra 15-yards due to a facemask penalty to the Red Raiders special teams unit. Two plays later, Chris Warren III ran eight yards for a touchdown. On Texas Tech’s final possession of the game, there would be no tricks. After Texas was forced to burn each of its two remaining timeouts, Texas Tech set up in a true victory formation for the final two plays of the game as the clock expired and Texas saw its postseason eligibility expire in sync.
This will mark the second straight losing season in Austin for the Longhorns after Texas lost a bowl game last season to end the season at 6-7. The last time Texas had back-to-back losing seasons was in the old Southwest Conference with David McWilliams as the head coach. Texas had consecutive losing and bowl-less seasons in 1988 and 1989. But at least Texas made an appearance in the AP Top 25 in those disappointing seasons. The Longhorns have now gone two straight seasons without appearing in the top 25 for the first time since 1986 and 1987.
A total of 17 of the nation’s top quarterbacks have been named a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award Monday by the Davey O’Brien Foundation. One of a handful of individual awards tailored for quarterbacks, the Davey O’Brien Award is the nation’s oldest of its kind. This year’s semifinalists include some familiar names as well, including Michigan State’s Connor Cook, TCU’s Trevone Boykin and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott. All three were named semifinalists last season (Boykin and Prescott would later be named finalists). It also includes a handful of passers from the Group of Five, including Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. and Navy’s Keenan Reynolds out of the American Athletic Conference and Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson (MAC) and Brandon Doughty of Western Kentucky (Conference USA).
Oregon’s Marcus Mariota took home the award last season, becoming the first Pac-12 player to win the award since UCLA’s Troy Aikman won the award in 1988. The Pac-12 has some good candidates on the list of semifinalists again this season as well.
2015 Davey O’Brien Award Semifinalists
- Trevone Boykin (TCU)
- Connor Cook (Michigan State)
- Brandon Doughty (Western Kentucky)
- Luke Falk (Washington State)
- Jared Goff (California)
- Kevin Hogan (Stanford)
- Matt Johnson (Bowling Green)
- Cody Kessler (USC)
- Paxton Lynch (Memphis)
- Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech)
- Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
- Dak Prescott (Mississippi State)
- Keenan Reynolds (Navy)
- Josh Rosen (UCLA)
- Seth Russell (Baylor)
- Greg Ward Jr. (Houston)
- Deshaun Watson (Clemson)