No. 2 QB still undecided

Question: What will Tennessee offensive coordinator Dave Clawson do if first-team quarterback Jonathan Crompton gets hurt?

Answer: Cringe.

Through three preseason scrimmages, neither sophomore Nick Stephens nor redshirt freshman B. J. Coleman has separated himself as the clearcut No. 2 quarterback. So, with the Sept. 1 opener at UCLA just nine days away, Tennessee has no backup plan behind Crompton. Stephens and Coleman remain deadlocked for the second-team job.

"They both do things well and they both make mistakes," Clawson said following Thursday's final full-scale scrimmage of the preseason. "The first scrimmage I thought Nick had the better scrimmage. The second scrimmage I thought B.J. performed better. Today I thought it was about even."

Stephens completed 8 of 11 passes for 108 yards in Scrimmage 1, while Coleman was 7 of 12 for 66 yards that day. Stephens was 5 of 11 for 48 yards in Scrimmage 2 last Saturday night, while Coleman was 15 of 24 for 170 yards.

Thursday's scrimmage was supposed to be the tie-breaker but it didn't turn out that way. Neither QB was sharp enough to earn Clawson's praise. Coleman completed 7 of 10 passes for 36 yards, Stephens 4 of 9 for 43 yards.

The cumulative stats for the three full-scale scrimmages show Coleman with a better completion percentage (63.0 to 54.8) but Stephens with a better yards-per-completion average (11.7 to 9.4). Result: The offensive coordinator is still waiting for clarity in naming a backup QB.

"As much as you'd like to make a decision and say, 'This is number 2,' you can't make it until it has happened," Clawson said. "I'll go back and watch the film but my sense is that it hasn't happened yet.

"You don't want to say it's this way just for the sake of doing it. Those things have to happen on their own."

With preseason camp complete, Tennessee now turns its attention to preparing for UCLA. Perhaps Coleman or Stephens will show something during game week that will separate him a bit.

"We'll have to see how they prep for games and how ready they are for games," Clawson noted.

There's always a chance that the backup quarterback job will be in a state of flux all season, with Stephens filling the role some weeks and Coleman filling it the others.

"It's a situation where it might be one way one week and another way the next," Clawson conceded. "Those two need to continue to put pressure on each other and continue to make each other better."

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