Schaeffer shines again

The idea of a conservative coach like Phillip Fulmer starting a freshman quarterback in Tennessee's opener is pure B.S. Right?

Well ... if the B.S. stands for Brent Schaeffer, it could happen.

Schaeffer, a speedy southpaw from Deerfield Beach, Fla., was the Vols' most impressive QB for the second scrimmage in a row Wednesday night. After he completed 5 of 16 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown last Saturday, he came back with the biggest play of Wednesday's scrimmage -- an electrifying 40-yard scramble. He finished with a scrimmage-high 54 rushing yards on five carries and also completed 5 of 9 passes for 30 yards.

Fellow freshman Erik Ainge may have been Tennessee's second-most impressive QB on the night. He made some big-league throws, finishing 7 of 15 for 45 yards and a touchdown. He also escaped the rush with a few nifty moves of his own.

Senior C.J. Leak directed a scoring drive early in the scrimmage but the bulk of the yardage came on a 35-yard touchdown sprint by tailback Corey Larkins. Except for that drive, Leak was generally ineffective, although his numbers (7 of 15 for 45 yards) were decent. Junior Rick Clausen also directed a scoring drive, doing so in typically methodical fashion. He finished 7 of 9 for 79 yards and a TD. Redshirt freshman Bo Hardegree was 4 of 6 for 40 yards.

Schaeffer would be the clear frontrunner in Tennessee's quarterback derby if not for turnovers. He threw two interceptions on Saturday and had two fumbles on Wednesday -- one squirting out of bounds and the other winding up in the hands of a fellow offensive player.

The edge Schaeffer has on the other QBs is mobility. Simply put, he's a playmaker -- a guy whose nimble feet can buy additional time for his receivers to get open or can produce positive yardage on the scramble.

Would Fulmer start a true freshman at quarterback in Tennessee's opener? Based on his post-scrimmage comments Wednesday night, it sounds as if he's warming to the idea.

''Schaeffer's mobility is a plus, and he made some plays in the passing game, as well,'' Fulmer noted. ''And Erik Ainge is going to be a really good player.... The young ones are talented. They just don't know a whole lot yet. They're both bright and they've both been in offenses where they threw the ball a lot, so that's very encouraging.

''Every meeting they attend, every snap they take, they're going to be better and better.''

Fulmer added that Clausen ''did a good job,'' and that Leak ''went out and led the team down the field early ... did a good job for the most part.''

Still, the guys who had the crowd buzzing were the two talented freshmen. Tennessee's head man conceded that both rookies have progressed considerably since scrimmage No. 1.

''They were better than they were on Saturday, absolutely,'' the head man said. ''Brent had two turnovers, so he's got to take care of the football better. And Erik threw into coverage a couple of times. But he moved around a little bit in the pocket, too.

''I'm encouraged by both of those guys. They're very talented, and we'll have to continue to evaluate where we are.''

Right now, that evaluation points to one seemingly inescapable conclusion: Tennessee's offense is B.S. -- Brent Schaeffer.

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