Auburn QB TJ Finley’s dad: ‘Son, the job isn’t done’

The news hit TJ Finley like a punch in the chest.

The Auburn quarterback, who finished last season as a backup starter, earned the starting job on the field for Saturday night’s opener against Mercer. But her dad, David Finley, made a not-so-kind encore.

“As soon as I heard the news, my father punched me in the chest and said, ‘Son, the job is not done. You can be happy now that you have won the post and it’s out, but the job isn’t done,’ Finley said.

“And I plan to do my best to lead this team to an SEC championship and a national championship.”

Admittedly, that’s a tall order for a team chosen to finish last in the Southeastern Conference’s West Division. Finley accomplished the first task by fending off two transfer newcomers, Zach Calzada and Robby Ashford.

In doing so, he avoided a repeat of his freshman season at LSU. Finley started five games after an injury to Myles Brennan two seasons ago, then was replaced by Max Johnson and found himself dropped to the depth board after the spring.

Finley started Auburn’s final three games last season — all losses — after a season-ending ankle injury to Bo Nix. Nix, a three-year-old starter, then left for Oregon.

Coach Bryan Harsin brought in former Texas A&M starter Calzada and former Oregon backup Ashford to compete for the job.

“He just kept developing,” Harsin said. “I think we brought in guys to compete. Competition brings out the best in you.

“People grow, they develop, they improve.”

Finley feels he’s grown as a quarterback after mixed results in each of the past two seasons. He led a game-winning 98-yard drive last season against Georgia State and helped the Tigers push Alabama into overtime.

The 6-foot-7, 250-pounder completed 70 of 128 passes for 827 yards and six touchdowns against an interception for Auburn. The Tigers were a middle-of-the-pack passing offense in the SEC last season, and now have a group of mostly unproven receivers.

For his part, Finley feels he has a fuller understanding of the offense.

“When your head coach tells you that you’re the guy we’re rolling out the mat with, that definitely brings a level of confidence that I think nobody wants to see when we come to later in the season,” he said. declared. “Confidence is an important element in football, because as you see last year, I was not mentally ready last year, nor physically ready to take this position last year after Bo’s injury.

“But I had to play this role because I was the substitute.”

Now the question is how he will play now that this is no longer the case.

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This story was originally published September 1, 2022 11:53 p.m.

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