Auburn quarterback T.J. Finley was thrown into the fire on Saturday.
He came into the game with the offense looking extremely flat against the Georgia State Panthers. After a few drives, Finley found himself on his own two-yard line looking at a potential 98-yard game-winning drive.
After Jarquez Hunter had a big run to start the drive, the rest fell on Finley and the receivers. The offensive line did their job to keep Finley upright and give him time to deliver some passes to multiple wide receivers, it was a special drive for Finley and Bryan Harsin.
I thought it would be good to take a closer look at this game-winning drive and zoom in on some of the key plays from Finley’s key drive.
Jarquez Hunter got it going
Jarquez Hunter started things off with a pop. He is always so patient when he works to the outside. I think it says a lot that Auburn went with the freshman in this situation. Wide receiver Malcolm Johnson Jr (16) has been really good at picking up blocks downfield this year.
Finley delivered on third down
On third and 11, Finley stands tall and finds Kobe Hudson on the outside. This whole drive is an example of why his experience at LSU was so crucial. Game on the line and he finds the natural receiver for the first down.
He stood tall in the pocket and found his primary target on the outside.
Finley used his legs when needed
Finley is not known for his legs but he made some plays with his feet when it mattered most. He takes two steps and it seems like he travels 10 yards.
He feels pressure from the outside and his first target was covered so he calls his own number and gets the first down. He probably picked up more yards on this scamper than expected. He did a great job getting down on the slide.
Buying time while looking downfield
Finley uses his feet to create time to throw. He scrambled to his right and constantly keeps his eyes downfield. Once he finds his target, he uses his arm strength to rocket a ball to Elijah Canion. He made a great catch on the sideline.
Finley delivers a dart to the tight end
This is a dart from the Auburn quarterback. Finley takes the snap, sets his feet, and puts the ball on a dime to John Samuel Shenker. Perfect placement and everything that you want to see on this play.
The one that got away
Finley talked about this miss in the post-game presser. On third down, the Tigers needed this. I’m sure both Finley and Hudson want this one back. Hudson’s ability to create space has been really impressive this season. He’s grown a ton.
I’ve watched this play a million times and I keep expecting it to not work. On fourth down, Finley gets it done. The way the ball leaves his hand shows how much strength he has. He releases the ball so high in his throwing motion. There’s a lot to like about his game.
A successful two point conversion
Love this play design on the two-point conversion. The motion and moving everything to the right forces defenders to make quick decisions on who they want to cover. The design really had three guys open in the endzone.
I expected Finley to target the outside option in real time but he used his arm strength to get the ball inside between some defenders.