Bo Nix, QB #10
This year was supposed to be Nix’s breakout season after a good, but not great freshman season last year. And, so far, he’s statistically about the same. Through his first six conference games last year, he had 1,253 passing yards, 135 rushing yards, four interceptions, and 12 total touchdowns. This year, he’s totaled 1,407 passing yards, 274 rushing yards, four interceptions, 12 total touchdowns.
But according to people who know much more about Auburn football than I do, he’s improved on the old “intangibles.” He’s “more of a leader.” He “has better command of the offense.” Whatever positive coaching cliche you can think of, it’s probably been attributed to Nix at some point this year. Even though, statistically, he’s performed nearly the exact same as last year.
One stat of note that popped up during the LSU game a few weeks ago was how much better Nix is at home. He’s 4-5 away from home with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, dating back to last year. In that same time frame, he’s 9-1 at home with 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions. You read that correctly, he’s never thrown an interception in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Not a good sign for a Tennessee team limping into this match up.
Tank Bigsby, RB #4
Bigsby is a true freshman that lives up to his name. He’s a big, fast back that can run between the tackles or to the outside. All you really need to know is he’s averaging almost six yards a touch on 100 touches. And he really only started getting the ball consistently against Arkansas, four games ago.
He’s also pretty good at returning kicks. So you’re going to hear Bigsby’s name at least a few times this weekend.
Seth Williams, WR #18
Williams is hands-down Nix’s favorite target in this group. He has 28 receptions for 511 yards and 3 touchdowns so far. He’s a tall (6’3″) and fast enough target that can high point the ball with the best. He’ll probably hear his name called at some point in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Williams is all set to have a good outing going up against this shambolic Tennessee secondary. Maybe he’ll become the sixth receiver this season to post 90+ receiving yards against Tennessee.
Anthony Shwartz, WR #1
Shwartz is not incredibly tall; he stands at about six feet. He has serviceable hands, and was barely a top-30 receiver recruit coming out of high school. It’s common knowledge at this point he’s basically a one-trick pony.
Shwartz is fast, in case you didn’t know. And between Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris, they’re getting the most out of his abilities. If I had to venture a guess, I would think 90 percent of his touches come from plays designed to get him the ball in space. Either finding him in the flat, screen passes, or short, quick-hitter routes. He’s not the type of guy to make plays down the field, but he’s a pretty dangerous weapon, nonetheless.
He’s well on track to beat his production last season, and, frankly, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t break off at least one big play on Saturday.
J.J. Pegues, TE #89
Pegues is 6’2″, 300 pounds. And to top it all off, he can do it all. He has a 100 perfect completion rate throwing the ball, four rushes for 16 yards, and four catches for 33 yards. He’s a true Renaissance man, and he’s only a true freshman. Heisman candidate one day?
Owen Pappoe, OLB #0
Due credit to Zakoby McClain and Colby Wooden, but Pappoe may be the most consistent, diverse presence on this defense. He has posted 53 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery so far this year. He’s only had two games with fewer than eight tackles. Hank T for the Vols has had four such games, for comparison.