KNOXVILLE — Coach Butch Jones quickly shut down a question Thursday about whether he has a timetable for naming a starting quarterback for Tennessee, answering with an abrupt "no."
The player who will be taking handoffs from the quarterback when the Volunteers open the season on Labor Day against Georgia Tech at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta shared a bit more insight Friday.
"We know who's going to be the starting quarterback," junior running back John Kelly said as a smile spread across his face.
Kelly refused to divulge any more information, saying "only time will tell" and "it's going to be a good one."
As Tennessee and Georgia Tech phase out of preseason practice mode and move into game-week preparations, there are elements of both teams that remain mysterious — at least publicly.
Neither team has named a starting quarterback, and there also are defensive secrets, at least for the Vols.
Second-year defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said Friday he is putting the "finishing touches" on Tennessee's game plan for the Yellow Jackets' flexbone offense. It's a unique style that could require Shoop to use more three-linebacker sets than he will the rest of the season. Playing a third linebacker typically means playing only four defensive backs, leaving the nickel back out of the scheme.
But with Tennessee's nickel back Rashaan Gaulden a reliable veteran in the Vols' secondary, Shoop was asked Friday about ways that he might be able to get Gaulden on the field.
His response included a bit of gamesmanship.
"Rashaan will play in this game," Shoop said. "We'll probably alter our personnel a little bit to get Rashaan on the field. I'd probably prefer not to say much more than that."
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said last week he is still deciding who will start at quarterback in the game, noting four options at the position. Junior Matthew Jordan, who was Tech's backup the last two seasons, junior TaQuon Marshall and redshirt freshmen Jay Jones and Lucas Johnson are all in the mix for the job.
Tennessee expects the Yellow Jackets to rely on their signature triple option, regardless of who their quarterback is.
On the flip side, Jones emphasized recently that Tennessee's offense won't look drastically different under first-year offensive coordinator Larry Scott than it has in previous years.
Still, the skills of the personnel executing the schemes make a difference in preparation.
The ambiguity about whether Quinten Dormady or Jarrett Guarantano will begin the season at quarterback for the Vols, and the possibility that both could play, has forced the Yellow Jackets to prepare fully for both.
"No. 2 (Guarantano) is more dynamic, able to run and pass as well," Georgia Tech senior safety Corey Griffin said, according to the school's official website. "Dormady is more of a pocket person."
Scott was asked Friday if he has a plan in place at quarterback, even if he is not ready to share that.
"In time," he said. "In time it will all come into place.
"We've still got 11 days to make sure we're headed down the right path with that and doing the right things," Scott said. "Guys playing with guys is as important as anything. So just keeping the groups varied and competition high is what we're concerned about right now."
Contact David Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org.