Jermichael Finley: A step forward
The cabinet is never barren when it comes to Texas Longhorns tight ends, and Jermichael Finley is on his way to making sure that position stays a staple in the Texas offense.
Saturday's game against Oklahoma was a record-setting day for the sophomore tight end. Finley finished the game with 149 receiving yards on four receptions and a second quarter touchdown that put Texas up by seven.
Finley's performance set a UT single-game record for tight ends, breaking Randy Peschel's 40-year old record of 126 yards versus Rice. It was also the third-most receiving yards by a Longhorn versus Oklahoma. In addition, his 135 receiving yards in the second quarter were the third-most in a quarter in UT history.
In front of a national audience, Finley was able display what the coaches see every day.
"What everyone saw yesterday is what we see in practice every day, that's just the way he catches the football," tight ends coach Bruce Chambers said. "With a national TV audience and the fact that he stepped up big, I think says a lot about him, because he's a guy that wants to do very well. He works hard every day in practice and does those little things that I think the great ones have to do. I think if he continues to work hard in the direction he's heading in, that for him, the sky is the limit."
"I think one of the things that has helped Jermichael is that he had the opportunity to play with David Thomas," Chambers said. "He was able to watch David and see his work ethic and see the little things that David Thomas did while he was here. He also had the chance to sit down with Bo Scaife and again Bo had a chance to talk to him about work ethic and the fact that you really have to come to practice every day and work hard. I think he has tried to do those things and their influence has been really good on him. I think what he is trying to do is model his play after what he saw in those guys."
"I learned so much from them," Finley followed. "I watched everything D.T. did on and off the field, and even when I was redshirting, during the games I would watch him and take mental reps off of what he was doing."
Still Chambers and Finley know he is not quite there and Finley is continuing to do the necessary things to reach that level.
"He's a great talent and he's a work in progress, but he's not the finished product yet," Chambers said. "The question with Jermichael has never been whether or not he can catch the football. Being a converted wide receiver, he's had to get bigger and he has, and he's had to get stronger and he has. He is definitely headed in the right direction, but I think at this point he's a good player and obviously his potential is limitless, he just has to continue to work hard."
Having someone on the team with the potential Finley has is not something that has been overlooked by quarterback Colt McCoy. The two have helped one another both on and off the field, and McCoy is excited about Finley's progress from the time the two became Longhorns to now.
"We came in together and red-shirted together so we've always had a close friendship and relationship," McCoy said. "We have always worked hard together in the weight room and getting prepared for our time to play. Now that it's here, I feel like he has really progressed since the first game. His blocking skills have gotten better and I think that has allowed him to open up a little more and now have a break out game."
Finley went into the Oklahoma game not worrying about setting Texas records, only with helping his team.
"I went into this game just wanting to win; it wasn't about me," Finley said. "I just wanted my team to come out with a 'W.' What we're focusing on as a team right now is getting wins."
With a hard work ethic and the desire to help his team, Finley is well on his way to being mentioned with the other UT greats. Putting time in the weight and film rooms helps remind Finley of what he is working towards.
"Every time I go into the tight end room, I look at all of their pictures on the wall and I want to be up there some day," Finley mentioned. "I guess yesterday helped me to be closer to that goal. It's a great honor to even be mentioned with them even for one game."