The Vols are just three weeks away from the start of their 2017 football season, and their quarterback battle rages on. Butch Jones said on Sunday that he’s in no rush to name a starter, and both quarterbacks have looked solid during fall camp.
The hesitancy to name a starter has led many Vol fans to believe Tennessee will implement a two-quarterback system this season. And the Vols’ new quarterbacks coach, Mike Canales, was asked about that possibility during UT’s media day on Sunday.
“I’ve been a couple places where I’ve used two quarterbacks at times,” Canales stated. “At North Texas, I went down to my fourth quarterback my first year there. That happens. So you have to prepare everyone.
“If that’s what Coach Jones chooses to do, then that’s what we’ll do.”
Regardless if the Vols go that route or not, Canales believes in preparing all of his quarterbacks to be the starter in case injury forces them into action. As Canales pointed out, he was down to his fourth string quarterback his first year at North Texas, and the Vols saw something similar happen in 2013 when true freshman Josh Dobbs was forced to start after injuries rocked the quarterback position.
“You prepare them all like they’re going to be the starting quarterback,” Canales said of his quarterbacks. “And right now what we’re doing with rotating the quarterbacks, switching the reps with the ones and twos every day I think has been really good for them.”
And as for those quarterbacks, Canales has liked what he’s seen from both of them throughout fall camp. And both bring something different to the table.
“(Dormady) is really poised,” Canales said. “He’s not flat-lined at the line. If there’s a bad play or a good play, he stays consistent with it. And I think that’s important at that position. He keeps a level head and he understands it’s about the next play and to forget the last play.”
But as much as Canales likes Dormady’s consistency, there’s still one thing he would like to change about his approach to the position.
“We want to get a little more ‘rah rah’ out of him a little bit,” Canales said of the junior quarterback. “We want a little more excitement out of him, but that will come in time. That comes with the opportunity you get if you get to be a leader of the team, the starting quarterback.”
Dormady may be the perceived leader in the quarterback battle right now, but redshsirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano is beginning to add even more pressure to the race. Head coach Butch Jones said Guarantano “had the best practice he’s had” on Saturday night.
And Canales agreed with that assessment.
“He was very focused, and it’s happened the last couple days where I saw the light came on,” Canales stated about Guarantano. “We talk a lot about what’s happened, what’s going on. He’s always constantly asking questions. He asked me last night before we came out to practice, ‘Coach, what do you want me to do? What is it I’m working on? What do you want me to specifically work on and get better at?’
“We set some goals, a standard for what we would like him to do. And he went out and met them last night, and I’m proud of him. You can start to see the lights coming on. He’s a little more coachable, and not that he wasn’t before, but he’s starting to see how it all works together, and I think it really caught on and he had a heck of a night.”
Both of the Vols main two quarterbacks have asserted themselves in different ways this fall. Only time will tell if Tennessee implements a two-quarterback system in 2017 or not. But one thing is for sure: Tennessee’s coaches are treating both like starters.