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News / Sports / College

Arizona State’s Dillingham helped build Oregon QB Bo Nix and now must try to stop him

Dillingham was offensive coordinator, QB coach at Auburn

By DAVID BRANDT, AP Sports Writer
Published: November 17, 2023, 3:04pm
2 Photos
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix (10) throws against Souther California during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Eugene, Ore.
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix (10) throws against Souther California during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Andy Nelson) Photo Gallery

TEMPE, Ariz. — Oregon’s Bo Nix has become one of the best quarterbacks in the country this season and has legitimate Heisman Trophy aspirations after leading the nation’s most prolific offense.

Arizona State’s coach Kenny Dillingham deserves a big chunk of the credit.

Nix and the No. 6 Ducks (9-1) try to keep their Pac-12 championship and College Football Playoff hopes alive when they travel to face Arizona State (3-7) on Saturday (1 p.m., Channel 12). Oregon has won four straight games.

Dillingham was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Auburn in 2019 when Nix won SEC Freshman of the Year. Nix broke the program’s freshman records for completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns after being the first true freshman to start a season opener at quarterback for Auburn since 1946.

Dillingham would eventually end up at Oregon as the offensive coordinator and its a major reason Nix decided to transfer to the school after the 2021 season. The two had another productive season together in 2022 before Dillingham became head coach at Arizona State.

“He trusted me, his family trusted me with their son, for the second chance in this deal, when nobody thought he could throw,” Dillingham said. “Now he’s over here, going to be a top 10 pick, potentially winning Heismans. Just a testament to the character of Bo. He’s an unbelievable person, a great kid, has a great family and he’s so competitive.”

Nix has become even more prolific in his fifth college season, throwing for 3,135 yards, 29 touchdowns and just two interceptions while completing nearly 78% of his passes.

Nix praised Dillingham and said the two still keep in contact, but this week would be all business.

“He’s done a great job with my development, working with him for two years,” Nix said. “But at the same time, it’s another game. He’s the opponent and he’s thinking the same thing about us. It’s cool to play against him, it’s cool to play against a coach you’ve worked with for so long, but it’s just another opportunity for us to go out there and play a complete game.”

Arizona State’s had a rough season, but has won two of its last three games, including victories over Washington State and UCLA.

DO IT ALL SKATTEBO

Arizona State’s Cam Skattebo had quite an all-around performance in last week’s 17-7 win over UCLA.

He ran for 61 yards and a touchdown, threw for a 25-yard touchdown, caught three passes and even had one punt for 50 yards.

“Every time this guy touches the field, it’s like a punt, pass and kick competition,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said. “He can do it all, so you don’t know what you’re gonna get from him. He’s tough. He’s hard-nosed. He doesn’t go down on first contact. He threw the ball on third-and-10 last week.

“So it’s just really unique how they use him. You almost have to treat him as a quarterback that can run at times when he’s back there.”

BIG PLAYS

Oregon didn’t have its best game in last week’s 36-27 win over USC, but showed that it can connect for big plays.

Nix’s first two passes of the game were a 77-yard touchdown to Tez Johnson and an 84-yard touchdown to Troy Franklin, who became the 12th Oregon player to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a season. Nix finished with a season-high 412 yards passing and four touchdowns.

Oregon’s averaging an FBS-leading 46.3 points per game, but the quarterback thinks it can be better.

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“I think when you look at the first half the other day, we moved the ball really efficiently and scored points in the red zone. Especially in the first quarter we didn’t settle for field goals, we put the ball in the end zone,” Nix said. “That’s what helps. We’ve just got to do that for four quarters.”

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