Vols still taking time with quarterback decision

Vols still taking time with quarterback decision

April 20th, 2017 by David Cobb in Sports - College
Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano redshirted as a freshman last season, so Saturday's Orange and White Game will be his first live action in front of fans at Neyland Stadium.

Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano redshirted as a freshman...

Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

Quinten Dormady, who's preparing for his junior season, is the most experienced player in Tennessee's quarterback competition. But his play was limited as a backup to Josh Dobbs the past two seasons.

Quinten Dormady, who's preparing for his junior season,...

Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

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KNOXVILLE — Don't expect to see a quarterback win the starting job during Tennessee's Orange and White Game.

Do expect to get the most in-depth look yet at the competition to replace the departed Josh Dobbs.

All eyes will be on junior Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano when the Volunteers conclude spring practice with a scrimmage and skill drills in front of an expected crowd of tens of thousands Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

The 4 p.m. event won't last as long a typical game, but it will showcase a quarterback competition that figures to drive much of the remaining offseason conversation about the 2017 Vols.

"I think that one is going to go all the way through summer and fall camp," offensive coordinator Larry Scott said Tuesday of the quarterback battle.

Saturday's live game will offer a tapered glimpse of what Tennessee's offense will look like this season, but several Vols won't be active due to health concerns, and Scott has not implemented the entire playbook yet.

"As far as the install goes, we're maybe 50 or 60 percent through it," said Scott, who is in his first year as coordinator after coaching tight ends last season. "The biggest thing with us is about the teaching, refinement of the details and all the things we talk about with being DAT (details, accountability, toughness) way."

Still, the Orange and White Game offers a chance for the quarterbacks to demonstrate their command of the offense — however limited it may be — and to flash their talent.

It will give Guarantano his first opportunity to play in front of fans at Neyland after arriving in Knoxville last summer as one of the nation's top dual-threat quarterback prospects and redshirting last season. Dormady will look to showcase his arm strength and the veteran prowess he gained in two years of limited action behind Dobbs.

The competition also includes redshirt sophomore Sheriron Jones and freshman Will McBride.

Last year's spring game featured a halftime challenge in which the quarterbacks threw at a combination of moving and stationary targets. Coach Butch Jones said there will be another quarterback challenge Saturday with "a new wrinkle."

What will it be?

"You'll have to be there," he said.

Jones has a track record of deciding quarterback battles in late August. Since first becoming a head coach at Central Michigan in 2007, he has named a starting quarterback at the conclusion of spring practice just once — and that was at Cincinnati when Zach Collaros made a clear case for the job with his play the season before.

Scott will add a fresh voice to this year's quarterback decision. But he indicated the staff is taking a patient approach.

"Those situations always have a way of working themselves out and rebuilding themselves when they're supposed to," Scott said. "We're just going to keep everybody learning, keep everybody into it, learning and competing and all those things. That will work its way out."

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com.