Josh Heupel explains how he evaluates Tennessee's QBs as they compete for the starting job
Tennessee is no stranger to offseason quarterback competitions.
Ever since Joshua Dobbs left Rocky Top for the NFL, the Volunteers have struggled to identify or develop quarterbacks in Knoxville. That’s a big reason why Josh Heupel is now Tennessee’s head coach.
Heupel arrives with a lengthy track record of identifying and developing quarterback talent and the hope is he can solve Tennessee’s issues at the game’s most important position.
The good news is Heupel has talent to work with as Virginia Tech graduate transfer Hendon Hooker has experience and has achieved some level of success in the ACC, sophomore Harrison Bailey has shown promise and redshirt sophomore Brian Maurer continues to battle long after many believed he would leave the program.
During a recent interview with Knoxville-based WNML 99.1 FM show The Nation, Heupel was asked how he plans on evaluating his options under center during his first spring camp at Tennessee.
“I think that quarterback is about making the 10 other guys around you a whole lot better,” Heupel said on the show. “A big part of that is just your ability to play one play, positive or negative, to reset and go play the next play. Your body language matters, your energy.
“I think scrimmage situations are awesome for an ability to see how they handle the game, game management, do they understand situational football? Third down situations are they in four-down territory? Their energy in between plays to be able to get the bigs moving after a big play and allow us to play with tempo and their ability to recognize the mechanics of it. See if they know it, (can) communicate it, and then get their eyes on the second third level and be able to make decisions.”
So how are things progressing with Tennessee halfway through spring?
Tennessee’s coach says it’s been a mix of positive and negative but it’s important to note all of Tennessee’s players, not just the quarterbacks, are currently in the middle of an install process with a completely new system.
“They’ve made a ton of plays, they’ve made some bad plays, too. They’re continuing to learn how to reset in between plays and it’s a group that’s been pretty positive with each other, too. So, we’re halfway through, we got a bunch of football yet, we’re gonna find a whole lot more out about these guys as they get deeper into our playbook here throughout our spring install.”
Cover image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics