QB quandary

This much is for certain when it comes to Tennessee's quarterback situation: Nothing is for certain.

Most folks assumed that signee Nash Nance would redshirt this fall, even though he completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 3,017 yards and 29 touchdowns last season for Calhoun (Ga.) High School. Now that's no given.

The abrupt departure of senior Nick Stephens has left the Vols with three QB prospects - none of whom is rekindling memories of Peyton Manning this spring.

Junior Matt Simms completed 8 of 25 passes last Saturday, giving him 14 completions in 45 attempts (31.1 percent) for the first two full-scale scrimmages of the spring.

Mid-term freshman Tyler Bray has been more accurate - 18 of 32 for 56.2 percent - but threw two interceptions and reportedly is still developing a grasp of the Vol offense.

Sophomore Nick Lamaison, held out of the first scrimmage, was 2 of 4 in the second one with an interception.

Given all of the above, Nance will get a legitimate opportunity to compete for the starting job when he reports for preseason drills in August.

"EVERYBODY will get a chance to compete," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said following Tuesday's practice. "It will be up to Coach (Derek) Dooley as to how many reps those kids get but everybody will compete."

Now that Stephens and his six career starts are gone, Tennessee is left with three QBs who have thrown a combined 10 passes at the collegiate level. Simms was 4 of 10 for 39 yards in 2008 at Louisville, then spent last season at junior college. Lamaison redshirted last fall after playing juco ball in 2008 and Bray is fresh from Kingsburg (Calif.) High School.

Given the inexperience level at quarterback, you figure the Vols' offensive coaches are moving slower than usual this spring.

"We try not to," Chaney said. "We're trying to put in the offense, trying to figure out what they can and can't do. It's no different than what we did last spring.

"I don't feel like we're putting (restrictions) on anything right now. We're throwing it all at 'em and we're educating ourselves on what they can and can't do."

After watching tape of Saturday's scrimmage, the coordinator said only one thing jumped out at him.

"Nothing but inconsistency," he said. "We just need to hone up things and get them smoother than they look right now. We look like an offense that's got a new quarterback and five new offensive linemen."


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