Rating the QBs

When one quarterback is facing the first-team defense and the other is facing the second-team defense, it seems unfair to compare them in terms of completions, yards and touchdowns.

Basically, Jim Chaney doesn't. Instead, Tennessee's offensive coordinator compares them in terms of reads, decisions and accuracy.

That hasn't stopped Big Orange Country from hosting a full-blown quarterback controversy this spring, however. Fans of No. 2 QB B. J. Coleman point out that he has posted superior scrimmage numbers this spring. Fans of No. 1 QB Jonathan Crompton point out that he has been handicapped by facing the first-team defense, whereas Coleman faced the second-team defense.

Fueling the debate is the fact that both sides are correct.

Asked earlier today if he can get an accurate read on the two QBs when one is facing first-teamers and the other is facing second-teamers, Chaney essentially answered yes ... and no.

"You can some things," the coordinator said. "You can evaluate if he made a good decision with the football, regardless of who's on the defense. When the offense calls for a decision to be made, was it correct or not ... yes or no? When he made the decision, was the ball thrown accurately ... yes or no? Those are the things we evaluate, without question."

Coleman has completed 73.7 percent (28 of 38) of his scrimmage passes for 263 yards. Crompton has completed 62.9 percent (17 of 27) for 181 yards. Coleman has thrown two touchdown passes, Crompton zero. Coleman has thrown zero interceptions, Crompton one. Coleman has been sacked one time, Crompton seven times.

Conversely, Coleman hasn't faced defensive ends who apply the pressure first-teamers Chris Walker and Ben Martin do. Coleman hasn't faced a linebacker as talented and experienced as Rico McCoy. Coleman hasn't faced UT's four best defensive backs at once. Still, he has impressed Chaney with his work against lesser defenders.

"There are things you can quantify and, yes, you can evaluate 1s and 2s," the coordinator said. "You don't have to be (competing) against the 1s. A lot of the decisions are pre-snap decisions – prior to going 'set hut.' If those decisions are being made good, that's OK (regardless of the caliber of the opposing defense)."

Still, the fact Coleman has faced less ferocious pass rushers and less talented defensive backs must be considered when perusing his scrimmage statistics.

"There's no question that you take it into consideration," Chaney conceded. "You have to. But there's a lot of things you can gain from that evaluation also."

With this evening's workout and Saturday's Orange & White Game all that's left of spring practice, the first-year coordinator offered his assessment of the three scholarship QBs.

"Jonathan's done a very good job of keeping up," Chaney said. "I'm really pleased with Jonathan's development and how he's taking care of things. He's throwing the ball very accurately right now.

"B.J. consistently works his hiney off. He's very hard on himself and he makes very few mistakes."

The quarterback derby was supposed to be a three-man race but Nick Stephens has been limited all spring after suffering a fractured right wrist in early March.

"I feel kind of bad for Nick because he got the injury that set him back a long way," Chaney said. "We're really trying to force-feed Nick a lot of reps here in this last week just to give him the opportunity to get on the field and compete. He's doing a real good job with it."

The post-spring depth chart released earlier today lists the No. 1 quarterback as Crompton OR Coleman. That deadlock may not be broken until shortly before the Vols take the field Sept. 5 against Western Kentucky.

"We're real pleased with all of their developments," Chaney said. "As we move into two-a-day practices (in August) we're going to keep right on rolling with that competition at the position.... We're going to see what happens in two-a-day practices and see who emerges in that situation."

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