QB outlook

No position played a bigger role in Tennessee's dismal 5-6 finish last fall than quarterback, which is why no position is a bigger priority this spring.

Questions abound. For instance:

Will junior Erik Ainge play the way he did as a fabulous freshman or the way he did as a struggling sophomore?

Can redshirt freshman Jonathan Crompton bounce back from shoulder surgery and live up to his eye-popping potential?

Is fourth-year junior Bo Hardegree ready to step up and contribute?

After watching Tennessee's first full-scale scrimmage of the spring, offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe felt a little better about the quarterback position than he did beforehand. Ainge was 14 of 23 for 178 yards and a touchdown. Crompton was 10 of 16 for 106 yards and three TDs. Hardegree was 13 of 19 for 87 yards and a score. All told, the three combined to complete 37 of 58 passes for 371 yards and 5 TDs with ZERO interceptions.

Obviously, there's much progress to be made before the Vols will be ready for their season opener against California. Still, Cutcliffe saw some positive signs.

"I was pleased for the most part with the way they managed themselves," he said. "They've got to gain in knowledge but that's my job; I've got to take care of that."

Although the Vol QBs still have miles to go mentally, they did some good things physically and emotionally in that first dress rehearsal.

"We threw the ball well at times and made some plays," Cutcliffe said. "I thought there was some poise. I don't think they ever got rattled. The defense didn't do that much but they did what they wanted to do. The quarterbacks kept their focus pretty much."

So far, so good.

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