When Kenny Dillingham made the move from Auburn to Oregon before the 2022 season, he brought a gift with him.
Senior QB Bo Nix.
Now, Bo Nix was a solid starter for Auburn for three years. He threw for over 2000 yards each season, had a 57+% completion percentage, and had a 125 QBR. He was very good, but in the tough SEC, he got overshadowed and never really lived up to the hype set on him as a true freshman starter. A lot of critics were saying he couldn’t throw. So, he left and went to Oregon with now Arizona State Head Coach Kenny Dillingham, his offensive coordinator at Auburn.
“We have an unbelievable relationship that goes back to Auburn.” Dillingham said, “He moved to Oregon because of our relationship. His family trusted me with their son for his second chance when nobody thought he could throw. Now he’s a Heisman frontrunner, going to be a top 10 pick. Bo is an unbelievable person. He’s incredibly competitive and very smart. He’s gone from a guy who ran around a lot to now has the quickest throw-to-catch mark in college football. I have nothing but positive things to say about him.”
Dillingham was joining the Oregon staff in the same position as his friend from his high school coaching days, Dan Lanning. Lanning, a former grad assistant at Arizona State, had known Dillingham forever, so when Lanning got named Head Coach at Oregon when Mario Cristobal got fired, he brought in his old friend to take over the offense.
Dillingham took over the offense and led them to a 42 PPG season, averaging over 500 yards a game. Not to mention, Bo Nix showed what he was capable of. He had a 71% completion percentage, 16 % higher than his best season, 3600 yards, 1200 better than his top season, 29 touchdowns, which his best season at Oregon was 16, and a QBR of 165.7. He was a completely different QB. The move to Oregon has turned Bo Nix into an NFL-caliber one. A lot of which can be attributed to Dillingham. Bo Nix knows it.
“He was a huge part of my development.” Nix said, “It’s cool to play against him, but he’s the opponent now, and I’m sure he’s thinking the same thing.”
As Arizona State prepares to face Oregon, who are now #6 in the country and have a chance at a playoff spot, Dillingham will see many familiar faces on the sideline. He knows that team and that defense, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to game plan for.
“It makes it harder.” Dillingham said, “It puts this little person in your head. I want to do this; well, he knows I like that. I want to do this, but he knows I want to do that. So, it puts this evil person in your head that tells you, well, you sat in meetings where you said, “When someone does this, I want to attack them like that.” It makes you a little paranoid. It’s a game of chess. How much will they change even though we know each other?”
ASU will be heavy underdogs in this game. Will Kenny Dillingham be able to end his old team’s season?