Thursday Practice Report

KNOXVILLE- The hot topic following Thursday's practice was Phillip Fulmer's take on Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge, Tennessee's two true freshman quarterbacks.

Fulmer continues to be impressed with the cool, calm, and comfortable approach the duo brings to the field. At the same time, both Fulmer and the young quarterbacks remain aware that this is going to be a growing experience for all parties involved.

"Both of them have an unusual amount of confidence and poise," Fulmer said. "They're not intimidated by situations where they make a bad play. Sure, it bothers them inwardly, but outwardly they're ready for the next play. They've been coached well. They've been brought up well in good programs. Both of them have won a lot of football games and they expect to go to the field and win. I think that comes out in their personality everyday and the way they approach practice." "A quarterback could have 70 plays and two bad ones and lose the game. That's just the way it is in our league. I do understand that they're freshmen and they're going to have to live with some of their mistakes. When the lights come on at 8 o'clock Sunday night I'm going to look them right in the eye. I want to see them at that point. I expect them both to do very well."

As for the competitive breakdown between Schaeffer and Ainge, it's as good off the field as it is on the gridiron.

"I think the competition will make them both better over a period of time but as far as changing their personality and poise I don't think so," Fulmer said. "You sit in meetings with them, and now they're flipping off answers a week ago they had no concept of. They're learning and getting better." Despite the great strides both have made in a relatively short amount of time, Fulmer doesn't feel much pressure to name a starter right away. "We don't have to name a starter today," Fulmer said. "We'll figure that out. We haven't even talked about that as a staff that much. Right now, in my opinion, the starter will eventually rise to the top. Whether it happens in this game or five games or next season it'll eventually work itself out. Obviously, somebody will have to trot out there first. We may put them both in the game on the first play so they're both starters."

Fulmer hasn't headed into game week often without naming a starting quarterback. However, he was quick to point out that things have gone well once he has named a freshman the starter.

"In 13 years, I'm sure there's probably at least one or two times that we had that," Fulmer said. " look back and think of the freshmen ˆ Peyton was a freshman and he started and ended up 7-1. Casey ended up 6-1. We just hope for those kinds of results or hope for a little better and we'll all be happy campers."

Fulmer did go on to say that it would be safe to assume both quarterbacks would play in the Vols first game against UNLV. As for the team and the coaching staff, Fulmer added they just want to see a winner rise to the top.

"I think the rest of the team just wants to win," Fulmer said. "As I've said all along, the rest of the team has got to rise up and help them. They can't expect them to just take over and do everything a senior or junior quarterback would do." "The dynamics of what they bring is what we'll try to play to," Fulmer said. "He (Schaeffer) can throw the football on the run. He can throw the football in the pocket. As all of you have seen, Erik is not a guy that sits back in the pocket and is a dead-footed guy. He can move around. He was a point guard on a traveling AAU basketball team. He can manage himself in the pocket as well. It's going to be exciting for everybody. I hope they do very very well in the first ball game and we'll just go from there. If they don't, we've got to play again anyway, so it doesn't matter."

In other news, Albert Toeaina missed some time on Thursday due to a sore knee. James Banks missed practice because he was completing some community service hours.

Fulmer said the team would do some 9-on-8 drills during Friday's practice. Saturday's work will consist of an hour meeting and a two-hour kicking scrimmage.

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