Tennessee football wrapped up their first scrimmage of the spring on Thursday afternoon inside Neyland Stadium. For the Vols quarterback situation, all eyes are on the three guys currently competing for the job.
Brian Maurer, Hendon Hooker and Harrison Bailey are battling for the most coveted spot on any college roster, and Josh Heupel seems to be giving them equal amount of reps as they fight for the starting position. Now, you’re not going to get flashy stats and high praise for just one of the quarterbacks, but Heupel was quick to point out the group’s progression.
“I thought the quarterbacks did a good job of handling all those things really well throughout the day. We played error-free for the most part. We want to correct some things as far as decision making inside the pocket, but took care of the football. Really good day for us.”
When it comes to breaking up the reps for each player, Heupel understands that every rep counts and will be a factor in determining the starter in the Fall. Right now it’s all about these group of guys getting comfortable within the offense and getting their surrounding players on the same page.
“Yes, we’ve gone from day to day in practice. Each quarterback has kind of been designated that they were going to run with the ones, twos or the threes on that day. To get into a scrimmage, it’s a little bit different. They basically rotated through, got a set with the ones, next time running with the twos and threes and it got late in the scrimmage, kind of based everything off a play count and you got those guys close to evening out a little bit. I thought all three of them did a really good job of managing the game.”
In such a complex offense, communication is key for each group. The speed of this offense has the ability to make things more complicated, especially with a completely new way of playing. But for the head coach, he wants to see his QB’s pushing the tempo and catch the defense sleeping. This all comes down to each player knowing their role and letting their voice be heard.
“Communication was good, not great. We can be better in that area. But they pushed the tempo, were pretty sound in their decision-making in the pass game. All three of them took care of the football and allowed us to move the football at times as well. So, they’re picking it up, never where you want it to be. You’re always pushing to be further ahead, but they are a competitive group that approaches the meeting room and the practice field the right way”.
When asked what he was looking for when recruiting or coaching a quarterback, Heupel was quick to point out that it’s all about the intangibles.
“You’ve got to be competitive, willing to go lay it on the line every single day, 365 days out of the year. You’ve got to be able to demand it from the guy that’s next to you. Those intangible things are what we’re looking for in our quarterback here at Tennessee. We’re going to find it, and it’s going to be a guy that’s going to help lead us to a championship.”
This Tennessee QB room has talent, but are they good enough to lead this team to victory on any given Saturday is the question. For Josh Heupel, he’s going to give each one of them the same opportunity to gain the starting job, and if it takes playing two quarterbacks to figure it out, he won’t hesitate.
Knowing this staff though, they’d like to have their leader sooner rather than later. Buckle up, we’ve got a ways to go.