Fulmer weighs in on QBs

When the starting quarterback struggles and the backup shines, questions about the pecking order are inevitable.

Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer offered very little in the way of answers to those inevitable questions after reviewing the films of Saturday's 17-10 season-opening defeat of Alabama-Birmingham. He did not wish to discuss the prospect of a change at quarterback when the Vols play Game 2 at Florida Sept. 17.

"I haven't settled on a quarterback," the coach said, adding that he and offensive coordinator Randy Sanders will discuss the matter this week because "I want to make sure we're all on the same page."

Starter Erik Ainge completed just five of 14 attempts for 57 yards with two interceptions. Backup Rick Clausen completed 17 of 24 for 217 yards with one interception. Each threw a touchdown pass.

Fulmer said he thought Ainge "is still getting comfortable," but that he "looked really good on the first two drives."

After Ainge's first two drives produced 10 points, he was pulled so Clausen could take a few snaps. Ainge returned after sitting out one series but was erratic. Most of his throws sailed high and two were picked off. Although Ainge seemed adversely affected by sitting out a series, Fulmer said he and Sanders decided before the game that Clausen would direct the third possession, regardless of the game's score.

After guiding a touchdown drive on UT's last possession of the first half, Clausen quarterbacked most of the second half. He did not manage to put any more points on the board but Fulmer was pleased with the senior southpaw's performance.

"Rick did a heck of a job," the coach said. "He led the offense really well."


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