UT Vols' freshman QBs 'have their moments'

UT Vols' freshman QBs 'have their moments'

April 17th, 2015 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College
January enrollees Quinten Dormady (12) and Jauan Jennings (15) are making strides in their work at quarterback for Tennessee.

January enrollees Quinten Dormady (12) and Jauan Jennings...

Photo by Patrick Brown /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE — It didn't take long for the topic to come up for Mike DeBord.

And Tennessee's new offensive coordinator addressed it with the kind of answer one would expect.

The development of freshman quarterbacks Quinten Dormady and Jauan Jennings has been an important storyline for the Volunteers during spring practice the past few weeks, and DeBord was only a couple of minutes into his post-practice meeting with the media Thursday evening when he was asked for another progress report.

"Well," he said with a pause, "they have their moments where they really look good, and they have moments where they don't. We've got to get them on a consistent basis. That's where they're working to get toward, and that's where we're trying to get them. They've just got to continue working, and they'll work themselves through situations.

"Like today, Quinten had a pass that he actually ended up going to the wrong sideline, and that's just experience. We haven't repped that play a lot, and that's just experience. The more he reps he plays, the more he'll own those plays."

The two freshmen, who enrolled in January, have a leg up on summer arrival Sheriron Jones in the competition to be starter Josh Dobbs's backup for the 2015 season, and the Vols have been pleased with how both players have gone about trying to improve their games both mentally and physically.

But they're still freshmen. That means there are going to be mistakes and turnovers and moments that are frustrating for both coach and player.

"I'm just doing what I can, getting better each and every day," Dormady said Tuesday. "I've got a lot to work on myself. That's kind of what I'm focusing on."

For the strong-armed Texan and Jennings, the tall, athletic dual threat from Murfreesboro, there's a new up-tempo offense to learn and a faster defense lining up across the line of scrimmage.

The good news for the two freshmen and Tennessee is they are going through the adjustment period now, four-plus months from the star of the season instead of four-plus weeks before kickoff.

"They're right where you would expect," head coach Butch Jones said Tuesday. "I think both Jauan and Quinten have done a great job of really handling the day-to-day rigors of being a quarterback. They come out every day, but you can see they're work in progress, and the speed of the game is the biggest change."

To prepare for what he was inheriting when Tennessee hired him in February, DeBord watched high school video of Dormady and Jennings.

While Dormady is much more advanced as a passer, Jennings is the better runner, and though Dormady is a more traditional pocket quarterback, his athletic ability perhaps is overlooked.

During last Saturday's scrimmage, the Vols used more zone-read and designed quarterback runs with Jennings in the game, and though there are some questions as to whether Jennings' long-term future is at quarterback, those are probably premature at this point just 12 practices into his college career.

DeBord isn't willing to declare either freshmen as the clear-cut No. 2 at this early stage of the competition.

"They're playing different kinds of roles at quarterback right now," he said. "I don't look at anybody as ahead of each other right now. That's not what we said to them first. We said, 'Look, what we want to do is every day work at getting better,' so (when) we get to that first game, they're ready to go.

"It's a day-to-day process, and they both again are making strides."

Those strides, of course, are littered with bumpy moments, but Tennessee appears happy with the future the two are facing.

"I think everybody has to remember, and Butch keeps reminding me, that hey, these guys should be in high school and going to their proms and stuff like that," DeBord said. "But those guys are really committed. They're working hard, and as I just mentioned, they have their ups and downs with plays and stuff.

"They're going to get to that point where they're owning those plays. They're great kids. They're working hard, and I like where they are at their age right now."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com


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