It’s one of the many mysteries of this Auburn football season.
Zach Calzada started 10 games for Texas A&M last season. Calzada got his chance in Week 2 of the 2021 season against Colorado after Haynes King broke his leg in the first quarter, ending his season.
Texas A&M, led by new starting quarterback Calzada, quickly went 0-2 in SEC play after being knocked off the no. 16 Arkansas and unranked Mississippi State in the next two weeks. The second-year quarterback got off to a rough start, throwing just one touchdown pass through the two games and throwing an interception in both. Things weren’t looking too good for Texas A&M and their new quarterback.
We all know Calzada later led the Aggies to their biggest upset of the season, beating the no. one alabama at home. Calzada became one of two quarterbacks in college football to beat Alabama, joining Bo Nix. (Later in the season Stetson Bennet would become the third.) Texas A&M would finish the season 8-4 and 4-4 in the conference. Kalsada finished the season with a 56.1 completion percentage, 2,185 passing yards and 17 touchdowns in 11 games.
Auburn starting quarterback Bo Nix announced he is entering the transfer window after word surfaced that head coach Brian Harsin could not meet the list of demands given to him by Nix and his father.
Calzada entered the transfer window knowing that Haynes King would return in the offseason and reclaim the starting job.
Calsada and Oregon transfer Robbie Ashford both arrived on the Plains for the 2022 season via the transfer portal.
Uncertainty about the quarterback position lingered through the spring, through fall camp and all the way to the first game.
Finley was named the Tigers’ starting quarterback, but that didn’t sit well with many fans. We previously saw Finley during the 2021 season. He, like Calzada, started the season as a backup and was eventually given the job after starting quarterback Bo Nix suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Finley threw for 827 yards, six touchdowns and one interception in 2021.
Speculation began to mount during the first week of this season. A lot of people, myself included, didn’t think he was the man for the job. Personally, I didn’t think he was impressive in 2021, he made bad decisions, he wasn’t mobile at all and he was inaccurate. But my opinion, like yours, doesn’t matter. Bryan Harsin is going to rock the best guy out there, isn’t he?
In the first two games, we saw a two-quarterback system with Finley and Ashford.
The Mercer game gave us hope that it could work.
Finley went 9-14, throwing for 112 yards with one touchdown pass and an interception.
Ashford went 4-7, throwing for 100 yards and rushing for 68 yards on 6 attempts.
The second week was a different story.
Auburn struggled against a field of five schools offensively and defensively.
Finley finished against SJSU with thirteen completions on 20 attempts, throwing for 167 yards and two interceptions.
Ashford finished with one completion on three attempts, a one-yard rush and an interception.
By the third week, the wheels had completely fallen off.
Auburn got their first real test of the season against Penn State at home.
Finley finished with 11 completions on 19 attempts, throwing for 152 yards, one interception and three fumbles.
Harsin took Finley out of the game in the third quarter and Ashford got their chance.
Ashford finished 10 for 19, throwing for 144 yards and one interception.
Through three games, Finley threw four interceptions himself and fumbled the ball three times while throwing just one touchdown pass. Ashford has thrown two interceptions in three games while throwing just one touchdown pass. In all this time, we still haven’t seen Calzada. We didn’t even see it in the fourth quarter against Penn State, even though Auburn fell 41-12. If Auburn continues to play like this, they may not win a conference game this season. The container fire that is this program will continue to burn unless changes are made.
What more does Harsin need to see from Finley and Ashford before he gives someone else a chance? At Auburn, 8-4 isn’t acceptable (ask Malzahn), but neither is the performance seen last night at home. Calzada has already proven he can navigate this league and conference better than Finley. So why not give it a shot? Is there something we don’t know they do? Where is Zac Calzada?
Bryan Harsin to kick the best guy out there? He should, right?
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