Sanders on frosh QBs

When you ask Vol offensive coordinator Randy Sanders what's the quickest way for freshman quarterbacks Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer to catch his eye, you expect a complicated answer -- something involving the learning curve, poise, savvy, intangibles, etc.

Instead, his answer is remarkably simple:

''The quickest way is to make positive plays -- throw the ball to guys in the right color jerseys, keep the offensive team on the field by making first downs and score some touchdowns,'' Sanders said. ''The worst thing they can do is make bad plays -- interceptions, fumbles, going the wrong way or whatever.''

Since the freshmen have a ton to learn about the UT system, might their mental abilities take precedence over their physical skills the next few weeks?

''There's a balance,'' Sanders said. ''The more physical ability you have, the easier a coach can take it on them mentally. And the less physical ability they have, the more you have to make it a mental thing.

''In a perfect scenario, you'd have a guy with great ability that can handle a lot of the mental workload. But we're certainly not in that shape right now.''

Asked when, in a perfect world, he would have a clearcut No. 1 QB, Sanders quipped, ''Back in April.''

Advised that head coach Phillip Fulmer set two weeks as a preliminary target date for picking a starter, Sanders nodded.

''In two weeks we pretty much HAVE to know something,'' the coordinator said. ''In a perfect situation, we would know in two, three, four days, but I don't think that's going to happen.''

That's because each of Tennessee's quarterback candidates has a clearcut strength and an equally clearcut weakness.

Sixth-year senior C.J. Leak has experience in the system but has yet to exhibit poise under pressure.

Junior transfer Rick Clausen has great savvy but modest arm strength.

Redshirt freshman Bo Hardegree has good overall skills but lacks consistency.

True freshman Ainge has a big-time arm but lacks experience.

True freshman Schaeffer has great mobility but lacks experience.

''I think it's going to be a very competitive situation with some tough choices for our coaches to make,'' Sanders said. ''But we're going to have to make (a decision) within two weeks.''

That decision won't be carved in stone. In fact, it could be written in shifting sand.

''The thing they all have to understand is: We'll name a starter but that doesn't mean he'll start all 11 games,'' Sanders said. ''Just because we name a starter for Game 1 doesn't mean he's going to be the starter for Game 2 ... or even the second half (of Game 1).''


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