KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Butch Jones has had quarterback battles before, and Tennessee’s head coach knows exactly how to handle the competition.
He’ll do it with an even hand, with a throughout approach and with patience.
It starts on Tuesday when the Vols take the field for the first of 15 spring practices, culminating with the annual Orange and White Game at 4 p.m. on April 22 at Neyland Stadium.
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“From a quarterback perspective it’s consistency and performance every single day, never being too high, never too low,” said Jones, who opens his fifth season coming off back-to-back Top 25 seasons and a third-straight now win.
“We want an individual that can manage our offense and get us in the right play, (but) the big thing is going to be consistency day in and day out.”
Redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano has been getting most of the hype, most recently because of the week he spent in San Diego with QB guru George Whitfield.
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Guarantano has the same sort of confidence and swagger that UT legend Casey Clausen brought in 2000, but far more mobility and athleticism.
Rising junior Quinten Dormady has a big arm and a prototypical QB build, bigger and stronger than Guarantano.
Both have their strengths, and Jones is going to give it time to play out.
Jones stressed that, as SEC Country reported, there is no timetable to settle the quarterback competition.
It was clear that Jones, who has won as many or more games from one regular season to the next at each of the three FBS programs he has coached the past 10 years, is looking for an intuitive leader.
Jones said that when he attended the Jon Gruden QB Camp in Orlando with Josh Dobbs, he and his former record-setting quarterback with finishing each other’s sentences.
That’s the level of trust Jones developed in Dobbs, a three-year starter who was able to adjust plays on the run and make the most difficult tasks look routine.
Tennessee has a new quarterbacks coach in Mike Canales, and Larry Scott will be heading up a modified version of last year’s offense.
Jones said he has spent a great deal of time with Canales and Scott to ensure a smooth transition from former coordinator Mike DeBord after the 2016 offense set new single-season marks for points and touchdowns.
“We spent a lot of time together making sure we are speaking the same language,” Jones said. “We have a language we speak from our coaching cues to our play calls.
“We talk about winning every day, with everything we do, having that competitive character that we speak about every day.”
In a word, Jones was suggesting he wants a leader at the quarterback position.
That player must lead by example, “even always being on time is evaluated” Jones said, and off the field behavior will be considered as well as on-field performance where the quarterback is concerned.
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