By LARRY VAUGHT
“The first thing is just talent. He has all the talent you’re looking for, that’s for sure. He’s really talented on the move. He did a really nice job for a freshman with a feel for the pocket, buying time and then delivering the ball down the field with some accuracy while on the move,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.
“He has a very good presence about him and all the arm strength to make any throw. Very talented young man.”
Kentucky finds out just how talented Saturday at noon when it opens the season at Auburn. The Cats are a 7-point underdog.
Defensive coordinator Brad White says he has to be “smart” about when to try and get extra pressure on Nix in the pocket.
“He is so good and so athletic extending plays and keep plays alive and making throws and giving receivers a chance to catch balls,” White said. “You have to pick and choose when you want to try and pressure him.
“It’s funny you watch his film and plenty of times there are free runs and blitzes that have a clear shot (at him) and he has a knack to make a guy miss. Just a subtle move. He is very much a gunslinger.”
A gunslinger? Does he remind White of another quarterback?
“He plays sort of like Brett Favre, just loose and free and fun,” White said.
Favre you might remember is the former All-Pro quarterback for the Green Bay Packers who never saw a throw he didn’t think he could make. Sometimes he made mistakes but he also made a ton of great plays.
“He’s eally a savvy young man,” White said. “He presents a huge challenge. There will be times you say, ‘Let’s go get him,’ but if you do that and do not get him to the ground you are exposed on the back end. I hope we can get a chance to put our arms around him we can get him to the ground.”
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn knows Kentucky’s defense will be a test for Nix or any other SEC quarterback this year.
“They make you earn it — you look at the big plays last year. There’s not a lot of big explosive pass plays over top. They do a great job of keeping everything in front of them,” Malzahn said.
“They know their answers; when they get hurt on something, they’ll adjust really quick. You can tell they’ve been in this system a long time. The fact they’ve got most of their guys back — I think early on the teams that are coming back after not going through spring have an advantage. This is a very good Kentucky team that’s well-coached, has most of their guys back and has got their guys that call offense and defense especially in the back, so we’re going to have to earn it.
“We’re going to have to execute. This will be a game about execution, especially on offense, because they don’t make a lot of mistakes.”