'We're going to follow him': Oregon quarterback Bo Nix leads the Ducks' offense and more

Eugene Register-Guard The evolution of Bo Nix is ongoing as Oregon’s starting quarterback enters his fifth season of college football. But this much is certain: when Nix straps on his helmet for the 15th-ranked Ducks’ opening game against Portland State Saturday afternoon at Autzen Stadium, Oregon’s high hopes and lofty expectations rest predominantly on the shoulders — as well as right arm and legs — of its senior signal caller. “It’s no secret we have a really good quarterback,” coach Dan Lanning said earlier this summer.

“We’re going to lean on him. ” By all accounts, Nix, 23, is up to the task. When Nix opted last December to return to Oregon for one last season, he became the face of the franchise whose likeness can now be seen on Heisman Trophy-promoting billboards in Manhattan and Dallas, and whose On3 NIL valuation of $1.

7 million ranks third among college football players. He is revered as a leader, respected as a teammate, proven as a player, and is also a young husband with some traits and talents few outside the program knew until recently. Tight end Terrance Ferguson declared at the start of fall camp the well-mannered Nix is, in fact, one of the best trash talkers on the team, a claim supported by defensive lineman Casey Rogers.

“He’s pretty sneaky,” Rogers said. “At first you might think he’s kind of complimenting you but three seconds will go by and you’re like, ‘Wait a minute, that was an insult. ’” Lanning also revealed at Pac-12 media day in July that Nix and his wife, Izzy, provide child care in a pinch.

“I walked in the house the other day … and Bo is in the living room,” Lanning said. “I'm like, ‘What are you up to?’ He goes, ‘The boys just finished basketball practice, they're getting ready for bed. ’ So there's a unique connection there.

It's more than just football. He's a member of the family. ” A young fan holds up a sign summing up the feelings of many during Oregon's game against Eastern Washington at Autzen Stadium Saturday Sept 10, 2022.

Those stories paint a broader picture of Nix the person, but what he’s done on the field and behind the scenes to elevate himself and earn the trust of his team is more significant as the kid with SEC roots attempts to guide the Ducks into the College Football Playoffs during their final season in the Pac-12. “However he leads the group, we’re going to follow him,” running back Bucky Irving said. Bo Nix goes from 'good to great' The Ducks went 10-3 in 2022 with a win in the Holiday Bowl but also losses to Washington and Oregon State by a combined seven points.

Lanning spent the offseason hammering home a theme of “good to great” for his 2023 squad. No slogan better sums up Nix’s past year and a half journey that began when he opted to transfer to Oregon following the 2021 season after three years starting for Auburn. The move led to a career rebirth for Nix, once a five-star recruit from Alabama who initially stayed in state to play for his dream school and follow in the footsteps of his father Patrick, who also was a quarterback for the Tigers.

Wearing the No. 10 jersey last donned on offense by quarterback Justin Herbert, Nix put up career-best numbers for passing yards (3,594), passing touchdowns (29), completion percentage (71. 9%), rushing yards (510) and rushing touchdowns (14) last season.

Oregon Ducks wide receiver Troy Franklin (11) celebrates with quarterback Bo Nix (10) after catching a touchdown pass during the first half against the UCLA Bruins at Autzen Stadium Oct. 22, 2022, in Eugene. He was in contention to be a Heisman Trophy finalist until a lower leg injury suffered late against Washington in the 10th game of the season limited his productivity and mobility the rest of the regular season.

He didn’t miss a game, however, as he limped his way against No. 10 Utah and No. 21 Oregon State — a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by teammates.

“Tough, tough, tough guy, and he’s going to go to war with his teammates,” Irving said. “We feed off his energy. He’s gotta bring it every day.

He can have no off days knowing that he’s the quarterback and things are going to go as he goes. ” Nix understands that as well as anyone. “It’s being the steady leader the offense needs,” he said when asked about his role this season.

“It’s similar to what it was last year. It’s doing what I did last year but at an higher and even better scale. ” To get there, Nix is embracing Lanning’s “good to great” mantra and what that means to him individually.

“Where can I go from where I was good and where I was capable to now make it one of my strengths?” he said. “Where can I go to where my weaknesses aren’t my weaknesses anymore? Where can I go to where my strengths are now elite? I think as a player, as an evaluator, as an individual, you have to look at yourself and figure those things out. ” As a leader, however, Nix appears to be at the top of his game.

“He’s very vocal on the field telling guys what to do, where to be,” said wide receiver Troy Franklin, who then added that Nix’s leadership doesn’t end when the jersey comes off. “There’s times he’s getting guys together, going out to eat, just making sure guys are straight, making sure guys are getting to class, making sure guys are doing their stuff. ” It's a leadership style that comes naturally for Nix, though his experience as a five-year starting quarterback certainly helps.

“I think the most important thing is understanding how each individual is capable of being led,” Nix said. “As long as I've been in college, as long as I've played, the guys kind of look to me for certain things. I have that pressure to be the leader.

Sometimes I don't do a great job, and sometimes I have to tell them I apologize, I'll do it better next time. I try to meet them where they are and go exactly where they need to be, help them with whatever they're going through. ” Nix doesn't back down Even with all eyes and ears on him, Nix still likes to mix it up with a little trash talk from time to time.

“I won’t back down from it,” he said with a smile. “I don’t normally start it, but if they want to start it, I don’t mind finishing it. I don’t cuss or anything, so I guess I just take what they say and remind them that we’re still going to attack them on offense, still going to go after them, and a lot of times my guys back me up so that’s a good thing.

” As for the side gig as a child care provider for his coach, Nix said it’s simply a small, kind gesture to make sure everyone stays on course. Oregon quarterback Bo Nix throws out a pass during the first half as the No. 13 Oregon Ducks take on the Stanford Cardinal Saturday, Oct.

1, 2022, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. “That's part of the connection we talk about,” Nix said. “Coach Lanning really puts an emphasis on that.

We want to be the most connected team possible. What's better than baby-sitting his kids and making sure they're good. At the end of the day, they're part of the family.

If they're good, then coach Lanning is good, and he can make us good. ” As can Nix. “His composure and just the way he leads us is something you want in a championship winning team,” tight end Casey Kelly said.

“He’s a baller. We just go behind him and let him roll. ” .

Chris Hansen
·
Filed 08.28.2023

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