UT has 'mess' at QB

If you think Tennessee has a dilemma at quarterback, you're not the only one.

``It's a mess right now, to be honest with you," coach Phillip Fulmer said after the rotation of Rick Clausen and Erik Ainge resulted in one touchdown during a 16-7 loss at Florida. ``We've got to try to get this thing going."

It's not going in a positive direction.

Based on his play against Alabama-Birmingham, Clausen, a senior, got the start against Florida. On the third series, Ainge entered.

Ainge played the next three series, and engineered the Vols' only scoring drive with an 83-yard march. He got UT inside the 10 on the next possession, but Florida blocked a field goal.

When Tennessee got the ball back, Clausen went in with 1:13 left in the first half with the ball at the UT 34. That was a rather strange move, considering how effective Ainge had been.

Fulmer explained that Clausen had run the two-minute offense well in the opener against UAB, but that was with more time left on the clock against a weaker defense. The Vols needed to get the ball downfield in a hurry -- not a Clausen strength.

So what happened? Clausen threw a screen that lost four yards, passed incomplete then handed off to Arian Foster for an 8-yard run, running out the clock in the first half.

In three series, Clausen was 2 of 5, generated one first down and was sacked once.

Ainge was 6 of 7 during one drive, but 8 of 22 the rest of the game.

``That's what we're struggling with," Fulmer said of Ainge's inconsistency. ``Ainge looks really good at times and that's why we went with him in the second half."

Asked to assess the quarterback play, Fulmer said: ``Not great at all. Florida's defense kept them off balance."

* With LSU next on the horizon, you wonder how the Vols will respond to losing the SEC opener.

``They have to keep their heads up," Fulmer said of his players. ``It's a long season. "We've been here before (losing to Florida) when we won a conference championship. "You have to believe someone will take care of Florida and we have to take care of business."

* Field position hurt the Vols.

Tennessee began seven of its 11 series at its 30-yard line or worse.

Florida started six of its series outside of its 30-yard line with three in UT territory. Two of the possessions that started past midfield led to field goals. The third was at the end of the game.


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