Blevins: Stop worrying about QBs

InsideTennessee is the place to be as Team 118 gets closer and closer to the first game of the season. Scroll down to read a column about why you should be wasting time worrying about the quarterbacks

All spring, the focus has been on the quarterbacks.

From diners to radio airwaves to the water coolers, Knoxville is buzzing with opinions about Tennessee's four-headed quarterback competition.

Who will take the field next fall? Everyone has their own answer.

Will it be Justin Worley? Riley Ferguson? Joshua Dobbs? Maybe even Nathan Peterman?

You can't go a day with out reading a story about the race.

And I'm here to tell you not to worry about the quarterbacks. Don't waste your time.

No, it shouldn't be the central storyline of spring.

No, the focus needs to be on the offensive line. Tennessee's Orange & White spring game Saturday made that much apparent.

Face it: one quarterback hasn't separated himself from the others this spring. And it's likely one will not run away with the job.

A literal coin flip may decide who takes the field against Utah State.

Each quarterback has shown flashes and each has committed hair-scratching mistakes. They're all relatively equal as far as ability goes.

When the decision finally comes, that player will play just fine. No matter which quarterback it is.

Why?

Because Tennessee is loaded at the receiver position.

Fans proudly call their beloved university "Wide Receiver U" year after year. It's true again this fall. It was true during the spring game.

Josh Malone added several exclamation marks to the scrimmage, hauling in a team-best 181 receiving yards on six catches. He's supposed to be getting ready for prom, instead he looked closer to readying for the NFL draft.

Marquez North, a freshman All-American last fall, picked up right where he left off. North dusted the Vols' secondary time after time on his way to gobble up 106 yards.

North burnt Cameron Sutton, Riyahd Jones, D'Andre Payne — it didn't matter. He was too quick off the ball. His cuts were too sharp. He was unstoppable.

While Von Pearson's numbers were less flashy, they won't be that way for long. Pearson took a swing pass in the flats then zigged and zagged his way through several defenders for a hard-fought 18-yard gain.

Pearson has already cracked Sportscenter's Top 10 plays with a one-handed snag in practice, something he does virtually ever day.

What am I saying? Pearson is good, too. Very good.

Then again, they all are.

The yet-to-be-determined starting quarterback doesn't have to be a star. That's a good thing, because there's not a star competing for the job.

Dobbs headed the pack this time, tossing for 199 yards. Worley was next with 151 yards, followed by Ferguson's 83 and Peterman's 81.

Whoever is named starter, they just need to get the ball into the hands of one of those three prized wideouts.

Then, watch.

It sounds easy enough. And it is. But it can't happen without protection from the offensive line, which there hasn't been a lot of this spring.

<A HREF=//tennessee.scout.com/a.z?s=7&p=8&c=1&nid=7550520><A HREF=//tennessee.scout.com/a.z?s=7&p=8&c=1&nid=7550518><A HREF=//tennessee.scout.com/a.z?s=7&p=8&c=1&nid=7550508><A HREF=//tennessee.scout.com/a.z?s=7&p=8&c=1&nid=7550518><A HREF=//tennessee.scout.com/a.z?s=7&p=8&c=1&nid=7550561>Nathan Peterman</A></A></A></A></A>
KERBYSON
All four quarterbacks have been running for dear life during scrimmages far too frequently.

Fan's focus needs to shift to that group, as unappealing as it may sound.

If the offensive line can't find it's rhythm, the limitless talent of Malone, North and Pearson is worthless.

And time is running out.

The offensive line allowed four sacks Saturday and turned in what looked to be its best showing of spring. It was a promising sign. Finding that consistency up front — I believe — will make or break the 2014 season.

Will the task of replacing all five starters along the offensive line prove to be too much for Team 118?

That's the real question fans need to be focusing on as the first game inches closer and closer.

It's certainly an interesting question, one I have no answer for.

Dontavius Blair, a former Scout four-star, has the size, length and talent to grow into a mainstay at left tackle. But his fundamentals have been shaky at best.

Coleman Thomas, a former Scout three-star, has the hand and and foot speed to find success starting as a freshman. But he's been overwhelmed and looked lost at times.

The talent is there, as raw as it may be.

If the offensive line can polish up this summer, this team possesses the players and the potential to field an eye-catching offense and find success in the fall.

If not, well, I'll leave that for the fans to discuss.


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