Quarterback Search Begins as Tennessee Starts Fall Practice
(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The 2021 Tennessee Volunteers took Haslam Field on Thursday for the second day of preseason camp. Quarterbacks coach Joey Halzle met with local media after practice to discuss the early progress and development of Tennessee’s signal callers.
“It’s been really positive,” Halzle said regarding his assessment of the quarterback room through two practices. “For starters, everyone is going out and competing their butts off, not getting a bunch of misses with call and protections, calling runs as fast as we go. Our eye discipline has been really good, and zero turnovers so far in camp right now. In camp, the first couple days you always have a tendency to be sloppy, especially with a new offense, but guys are doing a great job getting their eyes in the right place, getting the body in the right place and taking care of the football.”
In head coach Josh Heupel‘s frequently referenced high-octane offensive scheme, quarterback play is paramount. Halzle discussed the importance of pushing the ball down the field quickly and efficiently, and how his group has improved since the spring.
“That’s a big part of what we do with how we play,” Halzle said. “We have guys that can throw the ball. That’s what we have here. They can put it down the field. The guys that were here this spring, they have made a huge jump in actually using their lower body to drive a football instead of trying to pull it with their arm all over the place … you’ve seen their RPMs, their velocity, their distance, all of that pick up from when we got here at the start of spring football to where we are right now.”
With four quarterbacks on scholarship and the season opener less than a month away, the competition for the starting job is underway and evolving constantly. Halzle expects to see some separation as fall camp progresses.
“I think it’s always positive in fall camp when you have competition,” Halzle said. “With that said, if you have competition at the quarterback position, that means you don’t have a solidified starter that’s played a bunch of ball for you. We do understand that it’s coming down to it. It’s about that time. So, we are pressing both the guys and the coaching staff to start figuring out who is going to separate themselves. And as that guy, or two guys or three guys start to separate themselves, they’ll see their rep count go up, and they’ll see that they’re getting more pushed to get ready for the actual game day on Sept. 2.”
The full video and transcript from Halzle’s post-practice press conference can be seen below, along with quotes from select offensive players following the second day of fall camp.