Five practices are in the books and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's quarterback competition continues.
Neither returning starter Jare Gault nor transfer B.J. Coleman was at the top of his game during UTC's fifth preseason practice Wednesday at Scrappy Moore Field. It was the Mocs' first practice in full pads, and overall the day belonged to the defense.
"It's good to see them have a good day," receiver Clint Woods said of the defense, "but not when we didn't execute very well."
Gault and Coleman have been in good form during most of the preseason, and Mocs coach Russ Huesman said he and offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield could be about a week away from making a decision.
"I think they're both doing a great job, with all the things you need a quarterback to do," Huesman said. "They're both competitors; they both want to win; they both want to play.
"We're going to try and make a decision. Obviously we're not ready. We'll see early next week where we are."
Satterfield left the field immediately after Wednesday's practice, but he spoke very diplomatically Sunday about the quarterback competition.
"I think that B.J. Coleman is an unbelievable quarterback. I think that Jare Gault is an unbelievable quarterback. I think they're competing at an unbelievably high level," he said.
Gault and Coleman were equally diplomatic.
Said Gault: "I have fun with it. It's not every day you get to come out here and just throw the ball around and jump up and down with some guys."
Said Coleman: "You always have a goal and a plan in mind (to be the starter). You come out and play football and enjoy everything you've got. It's a blessing to be out here, and I enjoy every one of these guys."
Before camp started, Satterfield said both quarterbacks will play this season, possibly together at times, so UTC can take advantage of their different abilities. While neither is one-dimensional, Gault is the better runner and Coleman is the better pocket passer, Satterfield acknowledged.
As the offense struggled during the Mocs' 1-11 season in 2008, quarterbacks Gault, Tony Pastore and Sloan Allison all received significant playing time. That won't happen this season, Huesman said.
The starter will remain in the game most of the time and the No. 2 man will provide "an 8-to-10 play changeup during the course of the game, because I don't believe in substituting quarterbacks," Huesman said.
The quarterback who wins the starting job, Huesman said, needs to know the job is his and his leash is long.
"They need to know that one bad throw doesn't yank you out of there, one bad quarter doesn't yank you out of there," he said. "These kids have to go in feeling confident that a mistake's not going to kill them, because they're going to make mistakes."
In an eight-play situational set at the end of practice, the defense beat the offense seven times. The defense looked better, Huesman said, partly due to a sloppy day for the offense. ... Running back Bryan Fitzgerald sat out Wednesday's practice with a concussion after taking a hard hit Tuesday. Receiver Terrance Davis missed practice because of a family emergency, while safety Jordan Tippit (hamstring) and linebacker Tony Swafford (illness) did some light individual work. ... Chancellor Roger Brown and his wife, Dr. Carolyn Thompson, stopped by practice and spoke to the team for a few minutes about succeeding in the classroom as well as on the field. "That was nice," Gault said. "I wasn't really expecting it. It's good to see that they're behind us, rooting for us."