Updated: Sep 30, 2021
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
FIrst year Auburn Head Coach Bryan Harsin dodged the QB question, of course...
Complaining to the media about 'not having to reveal his game plan to anyone', Harsin's embattled, raw demeanor made the truth behind the curtain all the more interesting:
Whether Harsin will start LSU transfer QB TJ Finley over Auburn Legacy Bo Nix, who knows....but I will say this: The first year Head Coach is definitely leaning towards starting Finley...that's for sure.
Right or wrong, Harsin has just been welcomed with a swift kick in the ass by the "win or fuck you" business in all its "shameless or be shamed" glory, shoved deep towards the clenched teeth jaws of a predictable firing fate....but if he can win games....
This is why Auburn pursued a transfer quarterback, let alone the massively talented TJ Finley in the first place: they understood Bo Nix's turnover deviancies; When taking the Auburn job, Harsin knew one thing loud and clear...if Bo was leading Auburn off a cliff of his own dysfunction, he had to have the stones to cut the cord:
Auburn had to be bigger than the Nix name...
Harsin prepared for this inevitability, Nix chucking ducks and looking like Tebow's 2020 audition tape for the Jaguars' vacant QB role......and their man in the transfer portal was LSU's Ponchatoula-born prodigal son, TJ Finley.
Losing 24-12 at half to Georgia State, an absolute atrocity, it was deep in the 2nd half when Harsin called upon TJ Finley to get them out of this game and prevent a calamity which could send their season into a tailspin.
Already holding a TD pass on the year, Finley showed out for the state of Louisiana's new wave of QB talents, finishing 9/16 for 97 yards and a brilliant, last gasp, touchdown pass in which he broke through the grasp of two defenders, spun blindly while hunched over, before unleashing a howitzer-launched pass straight into the end zone for Shedrick Jackson.
Finley ended up leading Auburn to a 10 point win in the end, although the game was much closer than it appears......
So now, we have a story on our hands....
With the potential of heading home, back to Louisiana for his first start as an Auburn "Tiger"...only months after transferring away from the LSU Tigers, a team he started 5 games for last year...the prospects of an even wilder rematch from last year seem even more tantalizing.
Although his LSU career opened with a riveting 52 point debut vs South Carolina, buoyed by a nice (but sloppy) road victory over Arkansas, his freshman year was torn apart by 7 turnovers and 3 multi-turnover games, 5 INTs and 2 fumbles.....including a strip sack and 2 INTs vs his new team during a disastrous performance on Halloween 2020.
Sacked 4 times by Alabama, given countless opportunities to score against Texas A&M throughout a defensive stalemate, throwing the Auburn game away with one turnover after another after a competitive first quarter......
Finley was thrown into the fire, backed by a nonexistent OL, an invisible "running game" and receivers who were catching Covid, opting out, or enduring injuries.....most sensible Tiger fans felt bad for him.
But with each turnover, sack, or poor throw, TJ's confidence spiraled out of rhythm by the snap, until it felt as if he became a personification of LSU's off-field dysfunction.
Little by little, fellow freshman Max Johnson came off the bench late during these blowout defeats, mopping up and earning more goodwill, saving LSU from shutouts vs Auburn and Texas A&M (throwing touchdown passes to Kayshon Boutte and Terrace Marshall), before saving some face vs Alabama.
When Coach Ed Orgeron selected Max to start on the road @ Florida, many wondered what could happen...
If Max would struggle, if Finley might take the field at some point...but once that night came to an unbelievable, timeless close thanks to Max Johnson's playmaking heroics & Cade York's right foot hitting from 57 yards through the dense fog, Finley's fate was sealed.
Though he was convinced away from a January 2020 transfer by new Offensive Coordinator Jake Peetz, and while he battled for months against both Max Johnson & Myles Brennan for the starting job, Finley understood he was the odd man out, with promising freshman Garrett Nussmeier and 2022 St Thomas More senior phenom Walker Howard in-coming, TJ felt his best chance to start and play SEC football was elsewhere...and he was right.
Finley grabbing the starting job from Nix, in time for Week 5, always seemed possible to me...and while many Auburn fans are rejoicing at the gamesmanship that awaits around the corner, there's one thing they haven't seen yet:
WarEagle-ites haven't seen Finley playing against a top defensive front or secondary, they haven't seen him commit a turnover and how he'll respond to adversity, nor have they witnessed a wild bunch of LSU Tigers licking their chops for vengeance.
Will the hometown crowd boo TJ Finley if he starts?
Would the crowd booing "awaken the giant" or "tame the false Tiger"???
BUCKLE UP FOR SATURDAY....IT'S GONNA GET WILD....
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
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