So maybe Bo Nix hasn't taken the top off of defenses much during the first three games of the young season. Auburn's true freshman quarterback has been good -- sometimes great, even -- but his numbers haven't been exceptional with just four passing touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. He has a respectable, if not tidy, 545 yards through the air.
Here's the thing, though: He hasn't had his full compliment of receivers yet. To borrow the phrase of Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, it has been "musical chairs" at the position so far.
But when No. 8 Auburn travels to No. 17 Texas A&M on Saturday, that could change. Seth Williams, a 73 rating in the PlayStation Player Impact Ratings, returned to practice this week after being sidelined by a shoulder injury. Anthony Schwartz, who missed the first two games of the season, may be able to play without the heavy wrap on his hand that he wore during his first game back last Saturday.
The return of those two playmakers, combined with veterans Eli Stove (69) and Will Hastings (30), spells bad news for the Aggies' secondary, especially safeties Leon O'Neal Jr (55) and Demani Richardson (38), whose job will be to limit big plays against an offense that loves to disguise what it's doing.
"A lot of shifts, motions, fly motions, eye-violations, runs and different ways and different formations," Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said of Malzahn's offense. "And then all of the sudden he'll play-action and hit a trick play and -- boom! -- there's a guy down the sideline, there's a guy down the post."
Last season, that guy running down the sideline was often the other-worldly fast Schwartz, who took a combination of short passes and fly sweeps for many of his 568 yards and seven touchdowns from scrimmage. The guy down the post, on the other hand, was often Williams, a SEC All-Freshman selection who had six catches of 20 or more yards. During the season-opener against then-No. 11 Oregon last month, Williams used that 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame of his to outmaneuver the defensive back for the game-winning touchdown with less than 10 second remaining.
"I think we've seen glimpses of both of them so far this season," Nix said of his two nicked up receivers, "but to have them both back healthy, I'm really excited. As an offense, we're all excited to have all our pieces to the puzzle back."
Schwartz said it was hard watching from the sideline to start the season, especially that first game against Oregon. But getting that first catch against Kent State on Saturday, he said he finally felt like, "I'm back."
If Auburn can get Williams back as well -- "That's the plan," Schwartz said -- then the whole dynamic at receiver changes.
"They can't double us," Schwartz said. "When I was in they doubled me. Then the last two weeks they doubled him. Now they can't do that. They have to choose one or the other. If they choose me, Seth is going to get the ball. If they choose Seth, I'm going to get the ball."
So who will the safeties shade toward? O'Neal has one interception this season and is looking for more. Richardson, meanwhile, is second on the team in tackles (11). The Aggies as a whole are allowing only 184.7 yards passing per game.
At the same time, they've been very good against the run, allowing just 83.7 rushing yards per game. "Those numbers are special," Malzahn said.
In other words: Something has to give.
But in such a high-stakes game, it's all but guaranteed that the pressure will fall on Nix's right arm at some point. He has made enough plays to lift Auburn to a 3-0 record, but he hasn't had his breakout game yet. Might it be Saturday?
Remember, Williams scored the go-ahead touchdown against Texas A&M last season. If he and Schwartz are back 100 percent, it will finally be time to see what Nix can do when the game of musical chairs stops and all the pieces of Auburn's passing game fall into place.