Schaeffer's coping well

After taking the first turn at quarterback and playing roughly half the snaps in Tennessee's first three games of 2004, Brent Schaeffer saw his role change in Game 4.

The talented Floridian watched as fellow freshman Erik Ainge got his first career start and played probably 75 percent of the snaps last weekend against Auburn. To his credit, Schaeffer handled the situation very well.

''I think he'd like to get more playing time,'' offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said this week. ''That's only natural for a competitor like he is. But he's responded in the right way. He's been working to get better; he isn't sitting around moping and wondering why. He understands he needs to keep working, keep getting better, and his opportunities will come.''

Schaeffer's reduced playing time vs. Auburn was dictated more by circumstance than by design. Once the Tigers raced to a quick 24-3 lead, the strong-armed Ainge played most of the snaps as the Vols lapsed into all-out passing mode. Most likely, Schaeffer would've played more snaps if the game had been closer.

''Sure,'' Sanders said. ''Brent's still doing some things really well. When it turned into a passing game, that's an area where Erik has a little bit more of an advantage.''

Though he's a notch behind Ainge as a pocket passer, Schaeffer is a big-time talent who can make plays with his arm and his remarkably quick feet. Assuming he continues to maintain a positive attitude, he is sure to play a key role in Tennessee's remaining games.

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