Auburn football: Why Oregon grad transfer QB could end up at Auburn

Auburn footballMandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn footballMandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

After the firing of HC Gus Malzahn, Auburn football departed from the norm and selected a Mountain West head coach in Bryan Harsin. By all accounts, things will look different this year as the program adapts to Harsin’s system.

Well known for his high-octane offense, Harsin plans to blend his Mountain West style with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo’s SEC experience, according to Auburn Rivals. Unlike with Malzahn’s stint at Auburn, Harsin regularly assigned playcalling to his offensive coordinator at Boise State and is known for his development of quarterbacks.

Hank Bachmeier, Boise State’s class of 2019 4-star quarterback recruit, spoke very highly of Harsin’s coaching style in an interview with Auburn Undercover:

"“The offense is centered around the quarterback to flourish if he prepares daily and has an understanding of the game plan,” Bachmeier said. “For me, Coach Hars has taught me the why behind every play. Each shift, motion, formation, play design has a specific reason versus that particular defensive structure. He is very intelligent on the offensive side of the ball and I have learned a tremendous amount from him and am truly grateful to have had him as my coach.”"

If Harsin’s offense is largely centered around the quarterback, can he develop Bo Nix into a powerhouse QB or should the Tigers be looking elsewhere? With the news of Oregon QB Tyler Shough entering the transfer portal, Auburn football should investigate the opportunity.

His Ducks did well in 2020 given the circumstances. With only one home game–one in which they lost–they pulled off a 4-1 road record and ended up winning the Pac-12 Championship. Oregon lost to Iowa State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Tyler Shough, who will have three years of NCAA eligibility has decided to explore what else is out there, and has entered the transfer portal as a grad transfer. The durable Shough started every game for the Ducks in the 2020 season and led the Pac-12 conference in passer rating. According to current NCAA ratings, Shough is the 15th best QB in the NCAA FBS in passing efficiency with 1,559 yards in just seven games.

That same rankings list puts Bo Nix at No. 82. Like many Auburn fans, we at Fly War Eagle are wondering if it’s possible for Nix to progress further at the position. Many of the problems riddling Nix’s game–passing inconsistencies, leaving the pocket too early, panicking, and throwing the ball away–are problems that were excusable in his first season due to age and inexperience, but 2020 didn’t seem to bring much improvement.

It’s possible that someone like Bryan Harsin could come into the Auburn football program and develop Bo Nix into a calm, calculated QB, but it’s also possible that the Tigers may need to pass the proverbial baton to someone else. Matching up a top athlete in Tyler Shough with a known quarterback developer could be the spark that ignites an Auburn blaze in the Fall.

However, Auburn’s recent 4-star dual-threat QB Dematrius Davis out of Texas could be a roadblock on Shough’s hypothetical path to the Plains. If Bryan Harsin’s offense truly is centered around the development of a quarterback–and if Nix is incapable of doing the job–it’s more likely that Harsin would focus on coaching up the true freshman Davis to fit in with his vision.

That being said, it is of note once more that Shough still has three years of NCAA eligibility left…so if he were to land at Auburn, he comes with successful collegiate experience, proven success, and room to grow.

Shough has not yet been linked to a specific program, but our Penn State sister site Victory Bell Rings also pondered the prospect of adding the championship-level quarterback.

Whether the responsibilities fall in the hands of Bo Nix or someone else, it will be interesting to see how Harsin’s offensive knowledge impacts an Auburn offense that has looked mostly the same and mostly average over the past several years.

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