For LSU and TJ Finley, the night could not have gone much better.
Finley, throwing mostly from a clean pocket, and benefitting from an outstanding running game, played superbly in a 52-24 rout of South Carolina Saturday night at Tiger Stadium.
Finley, taking his first college snaps and making his first college start, led LSU on a 16 play, 75 yard touchdown drive on the first possession of the game, and scored on a quarterback sneak to cap the drive. His confidence blossomed from there.
He threw one interception, in what appeared to a mis-communication between he and a receiver, but he even made a good play on the miscue, tackling the South Carolina player who intercepted the pass, saving a touchdown. On the drive the Gamecocks settled for a field goal.
Finley was prepared, and poised. And, he and LSU got an assist from South Carolina. The Gamecocks appeared to do little or no blitzing in the game. That approach by South Carolina, confounded LSU head coach Ed Orgeron.
“They basically stayed in a four man front,” said Orgeron. “I expected a deluge of blitzes.”
Orgeron gave Finley the ultimate compliment. He said Myles Brennan is the LSU starting quarterback, but if Brennan ever plays poorly, he would not hesitate to put Finley in the game.
What is ironic about Saturday night’s win over South Carolina is, for years LSU struggled to find one competent quarterback to run the show.
Danny Etling, a transfer from Purdue, did a solid job for the Tigers in 2016 and 2017. Two years later, another transfer, Joe Burrow from Ohio State, would lead LSU to its third national title since 2003. But, after Matt Flynn and Jordan Jefferson, the LSU quarterback situation was mediocre.
In Brennan, Finley, and true freshman Max Johnson, LSU appears to have three quality signal callers on the roster, all developed within the LSU football program.
They say it never rains in Tiger Stadium. But Saturday night, it was raining points, and a trio of quality quarterbacks from LSU. And, that made it an unusual and welcomed evening.