Auburn football: Barrett Sallee sees TJ Finley winning starting QB job

Auburn football Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn football Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

The quarterback battle on the Plains has begun. In landing former LSU QB TJ Finley, Auburn football now has two (and potentially three if Dematrius Davis arrives ahead of schedule) options for the starting job.

In pole position to be under center during the Tigers’ first snap against Akron is the incumbent starter Bo Nix. Nix is a second-generation Auburn man–his father Patrick Nix was a four-year QB and two-year starter from 1992-1995–and figures to have one more season to establish himself as the go-to arm in the offense. Bryan Harsin likely won’t put up with more struggles from the former 5-star recruit after a sophomore slump in 2020.

Finley is the QB2 at the moment, and he too has much to prove. As Sallee points out in his piece, LSU pulled him from the starting lineup after Alabama preyed on his poor throws and lack of mobility in the pocket, so this isn’t a situation where the starting job is his to lose. He is likely to lose the summer training camp battle.

Sallee sees things differently, though, and believes Nix will be nixed from the top of the depth chart:

"Gut feeling: the underdog Finley will be Auburn’s starting quarterback for the season-opener vs. Akron on Sept. 4. It might be an unpopular opinion, which is fine. But Nix consistently bailed from the pocket after one read and tried to make plays with his legs — even if he wasn’t under any pressure. That wasn’t a huge deal for Malzahn since the former Auburn coach prefers his quarterbacks to be more than just “willing” runners. That won’t fly with Bobo and Harsin — both of whom want their quarterbacks to go through multiple reads and understand what is a much more passer-friendly playbook."

While some of Sallee’s points about Nix hold water–particularly his penchant to shun passing when there isn’t an obvious open option right away–the idea that Nix’s ability to make things happen with his feet could lead to the newly implemented offensive decision-makers wanting the turnover prone Finley under center in week one is hard to envision at this point.

Time will tell, and Auburn football certainly got what they wanted with Nix perhaps needing a shot in the arm after a so-so 2020 season, but perhaps we should wait to see how the QB battle plays out this summer before declaring anyone the starter.

Dematrius Davis happy with Tigers decision. dark. Next