You’ve heard the discussion by now, just about every day since the end of spring practice. Who will be the starting QB for Tennessee this season? Well, unfortunately for Heupel, he can’t wave a magic wand and have the leader of the group miraculously appear. This will be a battle that carries into the first two or three weeks of fall camp, as the staff looks to find the right signal-caller for this year’s squad.
One QB who has drawn the attention of many of his coaches and teammates is Michigan transfer, Joe Milton. As Heupel looked to bring in another QB for the room, he didn’t have to look far away for Milton, who already had a previous relationship with Heupel. It’s all about the competition for Heupel, as he looks to get the best out of the other three QB’s on the roster.
“Competition is the greatest friend that any coach has,” Heupel said at SEC Media Days. “You have to have it in that room. It’s going to drive the players inside of it when you’re not around it. To me, Joe’s got a unique skill set, a strong arm, accurate passer. I think he’s a very bright young man that’s picked up on what we’ve done so far really well. He’s talented. He can spread the football field from sideline to sideline and vertically and has a unique skill set with his size and mobility to use his feet as a weapon as well.”
One of the key things to watch over the first few weeks of fall camp is rep distribution, as the Vols currently have four quarterbacks on the roster that are looking to win the starting position. Having to split up reps between four guys isn’t ideal, which is why Heupel will look to cut that number down quickly.
“There’s competition at every spot,” Heupel said. “There’s no job that’s secure at this. You have to earn it every single day. That’s the rule in college football no matter what. You have to earn the right to get a rep, earn the right to prove that you’re going to be on that football field and that we can trust you.I think the quarterback position, it’s really important that every other member of your team, offensively and defensively, see that that guy has earned the opportunity to be your quarterback. When there’s a bad play — and there will be at some point — they’ve got to know that’s the right guy for them that’s leading that football team, and that only comes through time. As we move, guys are going to earn more reps. Guys are going to earn fewer reps. Once they’ve done that, we’re going to move at that rate. Obviously, we’ll have a starter before we get to kickoff, and looking forward to that competition.”
Either way you look at it, this fall will be a measuring stick on how far this team has to go on offense. But, as we’ve seen over the past number of years, Tennessee must get their QB room fixed before any other problems can be solved.