At SEC Media Days, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones mentioned there could be a possibility that both of the Vols’ young quarterbacks would play this season.
“If both players earn the right to play, we’ll play both quarterbacks,” Jones said at the podium during Tennessee’s appearance in Hoover, Alabama. Tennessee hasn’t implemented a true dual-quarterback system since 2004 when true freshmen Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer split time to start the season.
With a quarterback battle between junior Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano still raging and expected to continue deep into fall camp, however, many are wondering if the Vols will use both quarterbacks to start this year. And Jones’ comments have led even more to believe they will.
But how does Tennessee’s new quarterbacks coach, Mike Canales, feel about that possibility?
“I know plenty of programs have done it,” Canales said about a dual-quarterback system during media availability. “I know one in the SEC used it a long time ago back at Florida when Coach Spurrier did that.
“The big thing is we’re just going to try and get all three quarterbacks ready to play in that room.”
Florida is possibly the best example to look at in the SEC when it comes to implementing a successful two-quarterback scheme. As Canales said, the Gators did it with Spurrier back in the 1990s, and they did it again with Urban Meyer in the mid-to-late 2000s. Both times, Florida had success with their quarterbacks.
As for Tennessee, Canales is just focused on getting every quarterback ready to take the reins should the time come.
“I think it’s important that they’re all ready to play,” Canales stated. “They’re a snap away from being the next guy. And when Coach Jones is ready and the timing is right, we’ll make that decision.”
Canales would go on to echo a statement Jones himself said about the quarterback battle. Jones stated that the quarterbacks needed to learn to “compete, not compare” when it came to the competition this fall. And Canales agreed with that sentiment.
“I think what’s important is they push themselves, they compete and not compare,” Canales said. “I think that’s real important. I think we got past that as we went through the spring. We started getting better at that, just competing, not worry about the other. Just taking care of business in that day and making sure that they were better than the day before.”
As for what he’s looking for in a starter, Canales claimed he wants a quarterback who can be a leader for the team. He wants someone whose personality will come out even if it means being uncomfortable at first.
Above all, Canales just wants to push them to take charge.
“This team is looking for someone to step up in that position,” Canales stated. “Their personality has to come out a little bit on the field, even if it’s something that they’re maybe uncomfortable with. But I think they understand that’s important to do as a leader.
“I’ve got to be able to step on toes when needed and I’ve got to be able to lead from the front and push from the back as well.”
So who’s getting the start at quarterback for Tennessee in 2017? For Canales, he doesn’t think it matters a great deal. He believes both are good fits for the Vols, and he thinks Tennessee will have success regardless of who starts.
“Every day before we go out, we have goals that we set for ourselves in that room,” Canales said. “Did we meet those goals? I think that’s what’s important. Because if I’m doing that, if we’re doing that, if we’re getting better at the quarterback position regardless of who the starter is, the next one is ready to play, and I know we’ll be successful.”