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NC State Football

NC State QB Ben Finley: "We're All Friends"

February 27, 2023

NC State quarterback Ben Finley recently discussed the upcoming start of spring practice with the media.

NOTE: Click the video above to watch the Zoom call.

As the last guy to start as a quarterback for the Pack, do you feel like going into spring ball and next season that this is your position to lose?

No, I wouldn't say that just because I didn't start the entire year. I was just thrown in the last couple games there. I don't think it's anyone's position to lose. I think it's just everyone's to win. I think it's going to be just a three-way competition. We are going to just sort it out how it goes. I don't think anyone right now is designated as the starter in anyone's heads.

Looking at your mindset last year, this time going into spring ball in this year, how would you describe that, the change from one year to the next?

Last year it was really weird because it was just Devin. It was just us two going at it, and then we added MJ and Jack. The spring, it was weird because obviously this has been my first year I'm able to have a true competition for the job. When Devin was here, it was Devin's job. I was competing for the backup job. It's very different having all three of us compete now. The job is not already won by someone, which is, for the first time since I've been here.

Ben, having a crowded quarterback room is a blessing after last season when you had four guys start. But, also having a crowded quarterback room can also be difficult because you're all competing for the same job. How are you guys handling that dynamic? How has Brennan incorporated himself in the short time he's been here?

Ever since I've been here, we've seen quarterbacks come and go. There's been probably 10 different quarterbacks since I've been here. I think everyone, having Jack come in last season, it was really easy. At the end of the day, we're all teammates and we're all friends. When you're in the meeting room and when you're in the Murphy, you're helping each other. You're being friends and buddies, but when you're on the field, obviously you got to kick it into the competitive gear because you're trying to beat the other person out for the job. When you're not on the field, we're just buddies.

Brennan was saying that he's tried to help you guys, you and MJ, with the terminology and the offense, because he's been in it with Coach Anae before. What have you guys done to help him assimilate here and make him feel a little bit more comfortable with his surroundings?

He's helped a lot with some, telling us how things are going to be, because right now we're in day one installation phase. Right now, MJ, myself and also Coach Roper, we're trying to switch over from Anae's offense and our old offense. Just trying to interchange the words and the terms, because everyone runs the same plays. We're running the same plays, it's just different words. It's hard. But right now, with Coach Anae's offense saying, "Butterfly used to be bear." But, they're all the same. They're all the same.

How have you guys tried to help Brennan become more comfortable here around these new surroundings?

In our meetings, it's nice. We have open meetings and when he needs to share some input that he thinks is going to help us, he does. Because what's hard for him is the receivers, tight ends, offensive line. They're on a completely different page. They also don't know any of this new offense. We're helping him say, "Our receivers used to call this, this. And it used to be 12 yards, but now it's 10 yards. They're going to have to adapt a little bit." Letting him know that. Then he can apply that.

Ben, I'm just curious, your public image, I'm sure around campus has really elevated since this past season. What's it been like for you having that added notoriety? You enjoying it?

Yes and no. I'm glad I could provide State fans with some happiness late November. At the same time, it was nice my first two years just going out for breakfast and lunch and having a peaceful breakfast and lunch, not taking pictures and stuff. I don't mind talking to people and taking pictures. I can't really go to a basketball game or a hockey game or anything without being noticed, which is fine. We're just kids. That's my favorite thing about being a college athlete and meeting these people is, I don't want anyone to feel like we're on this different pedestal and they can't come and talk to us. I'm 20 years old. I graduated NC State. I think it's fun meeting people and making connections and making them feel warm and welcomed and just let them know how much we appreciate their support.

Are people buying you breakfast all the time now?

No. I had a random person buy me a beer even though I was underage. I didn't drink it, though.

Obviously, Coach Roper was on staff last year, but it's got to be a little bit different having him as your position coach now. What's he like as a quarterback's coach?

Roper actually recruited me in high school because when I committed, I knew Drink was going to leave. When Drink left, Roper was, we brought him over from Colorado. He was always flying to Arizona and talking. I got to know Rope on a personal level. Now, seeing him as a coach, actually, seeing him as running back's coach, he's different on the field for sure. All coaches, they have that drive when they get to the field. But, I'm excited to have him as a quarterback coach because I really think he's got a lot to teach us.

The last two years, even though he was at the running back's position, he was the grandfather, I would say, of football IQ. When we were in two-minute drill and we'd have two timeouts, it was, "Hey Rope, when are you going to use your timeout here?" He'd be that person for our coaching staff. That was always nice to pick his brain and just get to hear what he had to say about all these different scenarios and positions we were in. It's going to be nice having him in the quarterback room for sure.

Looking back at the end of last season, are there times when you look back at it and what happened to those last couple of games and shake your head like, "Wow." Or was it more like, "I knew I could do that if I ever got the opportunity." To follow that up, you were really disappointed at the end of that Bowl Game. Is that stuck in your craw and motivated you in the off season?

Yeah. The Bowl Game was really upsetting for me because I just felt like there was a lot of plays left out on the field. It was frustrating experience for me, just wishing we could change some things going into that Bowl Game, and also during. It was hard. I don't really like thinking about it. But yeah, I think that's the hardest thing in the past couple years is just preparing. It's been hard just preparing. You're the starter and not getting the opportunity. But, I think last year it finally paid off, that UNC and being able to play Louisville in Maryland. It was rewarding and it definitely has driven me to just get better and just reflect on my weaknesses and my st

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