Aubserver Mailbag 118: Quantum Leap
This week: Past quarterbacks, classic games, remodeling JHS, future scheduling, beverages, dead restaurants and eggs
QB Robby Ashford (Declan Greene/Auburn Athletics)
On this week’s edition of the mailbag, Painter takes the reins as Ferg takes a quick break after a busy football and basketball season.
This mailbag covers a Quantum Leap-like scenario, how a previous Auburn quarterback would impact Hugh Freeze’s first season, hated quarterbacks, the transfer portal, classic games that deserve some attention, non-conference road trips, egg consumption and more.
As always, we appreciate your support of the Observer. Thanks for making this possible. Let’s go.
Question for both of you: You are in a Quantum Leap-like scenario where you are put in the place of an athlete in one of the big moments that's happened in AU athletics history. Let's say you have their talent so you are capable of delivering. Which moment do you choose and why?
My first instinct, as it might have been for many of you, was to say the Kick Six for the uncut ecstasy. I cannot fathom what Chris Davis must have felt as he turned up the sideline with a full head of steam. But given the talent part angle here, I am going to pick Cam’s LSU run.
It was his Heisman moment in a season full of Heisman moments. Dragging Patrick Peterson to the endzone after dodging essentially the entire LSU defense was surreal. It was also midway through the season. The stakes were ramping up and if you hadn’t already bought stock in Cam Newton by this game — it was clear you were late. I think the performance also gave Auburn fans permission to let that quiet voice in their head get louder about realistically playing for a national title.
The imagery of that run is still vivid and matters in some weird way to me. I inextricably tie that time of day, the sun hitting Jordan-Hare Stadium with intensity but it’s not that unpleasant heat, to this fundamental part of growing up and the time I spent with people who I loved very much and who enjoyed watching Auburn football — although really that’s likely just a product of being young(er).
Verne and Gary are genuinely stunned as the play unfolds “Oh, did he accelerate!” “How about that!” “Oh my goodness!”
And Cam’s reaction, to stand up and rock his head back and forth in the endzone staring down a ballistic student section as if to say: if you didn’t know, you do now.
How would Bo Nix at quarterback change the floor/ceiling/expectations for this auburn team? Short of Caleb Williams, I can’t imagine a better QB for this offense in college football this year.
Well, I don’t want to jinx him but after last season I am sensing some vindication creeping in about Bo Nix’s career — even if, admittedly, his career at Auburn was mostly disappointing.
I am on record that even with some moving pieces before this first-year staff has its roster set, I like Freeze’s chances at winning seven or eight games. I am eager to see where Vegas sets the opening Over/Under.
It is plausible Auburn could find itself at only six wins, but I would be surprised. And there is probably a simulation where Auburn gets to nine wins — and it goes without saying that would be extremely impressive — but that seems unlikely.
Add Bo back to this team and I would firmly set my expectations at eight wins with nine a now more believable outcome, albeit still very tough.
Nix was one of the best quarterbacks in college football last season. You’re correct to point out that he doesn’t have the talent or upside of Caleb Williams but it is curious to me when people discuss Bo’s success in Eugene, it usually came with the caveat that he was doing it in the PAC 12 — which isn’t typically brought up with Williams.
Of course, Oregon took a drumming from Georgia to open the season but somehow that actually aged alright relative to the national title game.
Add Nix to Freeze’s inaugural squad and I think it raises the team’s floor by at least a game, maybe two depending on where you’re starting from. As I mentioned, I would expect an eight-win season as the floor and hope that Auburn could make it nine by getting a bowl win for the first time since 2018. With a better team around him than he would have at Auburn, it’s tough for me to believe that he’s taking this iteration of the Tigers to, say, double digit wins in 2023.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Auburn Observer to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.