Sophomore David Isabelle rushed 22 times for 214 yards as the Game 1 starter vs. Florida Atlantic but was pulled when the Blazers fell behind 23-0 in the second quarter of Game 3 vs. Troy. Junior backup Bryan Ellis came off the bench at this point to complete 23 of 37 passes over the final 36 minutes, rallying UAB to a 34-33 victory.
Ellis will start Saturday vs. Tennessee but Isabelle will play, too. That means Vol defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox must prepare for two offensive schemes - one built around a traditional dropback passer, the other built around a running quarterback.
That's kind of like packing for a trip to a destination whose temperature will be 80 degrees one day and 30 degrees the next: Basically, you have to be ready for anything.
"Both bring something different to the table," Wilcox said of the Blazer QBs. "The one guy obviously is involved more in the quarterback runs - which is a different element - and the guy that's starting is obviously more of a traditional drop-back guy that came in and threw for a lot of yards.
"You don't really have time to have two totally different game plans but I think you have certain things you like against each guy."
Naturally, Wilcox will want his best pass rushers on the field when Ellis is behind center. Likewise, the coordinator will want his best run stoppers on the field when Isabelle is taking the snaps. Thus, matching UT's defensive personnel to UAB's quarterback is a part of Saturday's strategy.
"That can definitely factor in to it," Wilcox conceded.
The fact UAB has two quarterbacks as diverse as Isabelle and Ellis is a real luxury for Blazer head man Neil Callaway and a real headache for Vol head man Derek Dooley.
"We've got to prepare for two different guys now, and that's always a challenge," Dooley said. "The good thing they (Blazers) have is, if something isn't working, you can change it up, try to get something else going."
Although Tennessee's front seven will be tested by UAB's two-headed quarterback monster, the bigger concern is how the Vols' youthful defensive backs will handle the challenge.
"Obviously, both of those guys have different skill sets," UT secondary coach Terry Joseph said following Wednesday's practice. "As we get prepared on the back end, we've got to be ready for either side.
"With one of the quarterbacks, there will be a lot more quarterback runs, so we've got to be able to fit the runs and make tackles. With the other guy, it's drop back and air it out, so it's both ends of the spectrum. But a good defensive back should be able to play against different styles, and that's the challenge we face this week."