Clausen to start vs. UF

Phil Fulmer has put an end to the seemingly endless quarterback questions – at least for now – by announcing that senior Rick Clausen will start behind center when Tennessee plays Florida Sept. 17 in Gainesville. Game 1 starter Erik Ainge will see action, as well.

"Rick will start and we'll rotate, probably like it was," Fulmer said. "I want somebody to take the job and that be it."

Clausen and sophomore Ainge battled all spring and preseason, and Fulmer fielded the same questions every day: Who's ahead? When will you decide who starts? Will the backup play? Might you use a rotation at quarterback?

One week before the opener, the head man announced that Ainge would start vs. Alabama-Birmingham because of superior arm strength and mobility. Fulmer also decided that Clausen would play the third series, regardless of the score.

Ainge guided a couple of scoring drives to open the UAB game but was lifted after two series with UT leading 10-0. After Clausen directed the third series, Ainge returned but was not nearly as effective as he had been earlier. He threw two interceptions and spent most of the second half on the bench.

Ainge, who finished 5 of 14 for 57 yards, conceded after the game that he got out of rhythm while sitting out and pressed a bit after returning to action. Clausen, meanwhile, finished 17 of 24 for 217 yards, reviving the Great Quarterback Debate.

Obviously growing weary of questions about the quarterback situation, Fulmer noted that the QB position is not his major worry at this time.

"My concern is the running game," he said. "My concern is consistency in other areas — not letting a punt hit, not catching a punt on the 10-yard line without fair-catching it, those kinds of things.

"The quarterback is not a concern of mine. I don't think it's a concern of anybody else on this team or this staff. It's a great conversation piece, so I'll keep trying to be patient and answer (reporters') questions."


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