Tennessee football has an open competition for its starting quarterback job. If the Volunteers use two to start the year, they’ll be fine.
The last time Tennessee football lost fewer than four games was in 2004. Notably, the Vols started three different quarterbacks on the season, and Phillip Fulmer and Randy Sanders never named a full-time signal-caller.
Looking to replace four-year starter Casey Clausen, the Vols planned to start Chris Leak. Casey’s younger brother, Rick Clausen, would be the backup. But then two true freshmen arrived, Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge. Fulmer immediately moved those two to the top of the depth chart.
Not only did he do that, but he never named one of them a full-time starter. After both suffered season-ending injuries, Clausen came in and finished the year. Through all this, the Vols won the East, finished 10-3, and beat the Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide in addition to winning the Cotton Bowl. This was all with the youngest team in the SEC.
If you’re concerned about Jeremy Pruitt’s statements in his opening press conference for fall camp about the fact that the Vols could wait until the middle of the season before naming a full-time starter at quarterback, just look back to this season. The Vols haven’t come close to matching that year, and it’s why there’s no need to worry if Keller Chryst and Jarrett Guarantano alternate time to start the year. Heck, it’s not even a problem if Will McBride and JT Shrout get in on the action.
The saying that if you have two quarterbacks, you have none is super annoying. It makes no sense, and history doesn’t prove that. Sure, if mismanaged, it can become an issue. Tennessee football’s 2005 team prove that, as did last year’s team. But if you have faith in the coaching staff, that won’t happen.
The defending Super Bowl champions in the NFL won it all with a backup quarterback, and they have a new starter to begin this season! The Ohio State Buckeyes won it all in 2014 after losing two quarterbacks to injury. Les Miles’s 2011 LSU Tigers team made it to the title game in 2011 using both Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson.
Heck, even the Vols have a history of success with multiple quarterbacks. They won the SEC in 1985 and 1989 with two different starting quarterbacks both times. And this is a rebuilding year anyway. So let’s look at years they rebuilt.
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What about 2000? They started the season with Joey Mathews, moved onto A.J. Suggs and then went with Casey Clausen to still finish 8-4. Even in 1994, Tennessee football started three different quarterbacks in Jerry Colquitt, Todd Helton and a guy named Peyton Manning. Manning also had to split some time with fellow freshman Branndon Stewart. They still went 8-4.
If the Vols go 8-4 this year, fans will be celebrating it as a successful first season. So there’s no need to jump to conclusions about the Vols possibly using multiple quarterbacks. It’s worked in the past, and it can work again.
Now, it is true that doing so greatly increases your chance of having issues. But again, that’s only if the coaching staff mismanages the situation. A quarterback guru like Tyson Helton and a guy with Jeremy Pruitt’s confidence don’t seem like the type who would do that.
As a result, at this moment, there’s no reason not to have faith in Tennessee football if they use multiple quarterbacks. They may not get to 8-4 this year. Heck, they may not even make a bowl game. But using multiple quarterbacks is not likely to be the reason that happens.