AUBURN — I have an admission to make, and it's not just that I'm perfectly fine with Christmas music and movies the second Halloween ends.
That's true, too, but so is this:
I like Bo Nix, and I cannot lie.
I know, I know — he's hardly perfect. Far from it. He's a 19-year-old freshman playing quarterback at Auburn, one of the nation's most recognizable football programs. Only twelve months ago on this day, he was preparing his team for the state high school playoffs, and it shows.
He hasn't always got the Auburn offense going like a turbo 'vette.
But, he also was rated a five-star prospect, and that talent shows at times, too.
It's maddening and impressive and exasperating and awesome to watch him.
It's like colleague and longtime friend Chuck Williams, a journalist with WRBL News 3 in Columbus, Ga., says: "Watching Bo Nix is like house breaking a puppy. You know eventually it’s going to be OK but it can unbelievably frustrating."
Saturday's 20-14 home win over Ole Miss on Saturday night provides a perfect example. Nix looked brilliant against an overmatched opponent. He threw for 340 yards on 30-of-44 passing.
He reached 300 yards with his last completion of the third quarter. He hit short passes. He hit long passes. He hit relatively short passes in spots that allowed receivers to make them long passes, such as Harold Joiner's 78-yard catch-and-run.
But, early in the first half, Auburn had drives of six, seven, nine and 11 plays but had only three points to show for it. At halftime, Auburn already had 315 yards but led only 10-7.
Yardage-wise Auburn dominated from start to finish, but somehow, some way, the Tigers didn't win by 30.
So many of us want to heap the blame for this and other puzzling moments on Nix. We want to blame Nix for beating Texas A&M by only eight points, for losing to Florida by 11, and for losing to LSU by a frustrating, headache-inducing three points to LSU.
At least a few are disappointed by Joey Gatewood's decision to leave the team this past week. No great loss.
Consider this: if Gatewood was that good, wouldn't he have won the job already, especially as he was on campus already a year longer than Nix? If Gatewood was the answer, wouldn't Auburn have asked that question during the struggles against Florida and LSU?
The problem is Auburn hasn't put much of an offense around Nix. The receivers, except Seth Williams, are mediocre at best. The offensive line is mediocre. The running backs are mediocre.
The play-caller? He's pretty dang good when he's got some athletes to work with. Otherwise, he's mediocre, too.
It's Nix's fault because this season has gone like it has? Sure, it's not fun to have a 6-2 record but already be out of the SEC and national championship race, while neighbors Alabama, Georgia and LSU are still discussing College Football Playoff possibilities.
It's easy to look at Nix and ask, "What about Jalen Hurts? Tua Tagovailoa? Jake Fromm? Wasn't Bo Nix supposed to be our answer to them?" All three of those guys are quarterbacks who looked pretty good at times as true freshmen, but they had a lot more weapons around them.
Also, quarterbacks mature, develop and adapt at different rates. Just because Nix is slightly behind their curve at this point in his career doesn't mean he'll stay there.
If there's one thing about Nix I'd love to see change is that he never appears like he's comfortable on the field.
The look on his face seems to say he's about to go take a math test. Tagovailoa has always looked like he's about to go see some heavily hyped movie with his friends.
Nix will get there. He'll get there. He's got back.