Everyone on Rocky Top wants to know which quarterback will take the field with the starting unit when Tennessee opens the season in Atlanta against Georgia Tech Sept. 4. It’s unclear at this point whether it will be junior Quinten Dormady or redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano, but according to the team’s quarterback coach, the Vols haven’t ruled out playing them both in the game.
Following the final practice of the spring in Knoxville Thursday, quarterback coach Mike Canales was asked about the possibility of the team having a two-quarterback system in the fall.
“Sure, why not, you never know. I think every quarterback in the room understands that to play they have to prepare as if they are going to go each and every week into the game,” Canales said. “That’s how we prepare them. I coach the starter and the fourth or fifth-string quarterback; everyone has to be ready to play… That’s my job, to make sure everyone in that room knows what they have to do if they get called and have to go out on the field, they have to perform.”
Canales also talked about what to expect for the competition heading into Saturday’s spring finale in the Orange & White Game. Based on the assistant coach’s comments, don’t look for the team to come out of the game ready to name a starter, but he acknowledged the quarterbacks understand the magnitude of the game.
“It’s going to be great for them, finally get into an environment where there are a lot of people in the stands,” Canales said. “They’ll have a chance to compete and show what they can do… They understand Saturday is going to be a big part of (their evaluation). Obviously, it won’t be the deciding factor on who will be the starting quarterback, but they get that it’s important and they want to go out and show out.”
While both Dormady and Guarantano have looked promising this spring, one characteristic that has impressed Canales the most is their ability to throw the ball. Entering his first camp with Tennessee, the quarterback coach has been impressed with that aspect of each of their games.
“They can really spin the football, that’s one thing they can do,” Canales noted.
As for something they need to continue to work on? Canales answered that question as well.
“They throw the football really well, and I think spent a lot of time on understanding a defense, what the weaknesses of a defense are and how to attack blitzing defenses when they come after us,” Canales continued. “They will continue to study this summer. That’s something we can get better at as a group.”
Whichever player improves the most in that aspect from the conclusion of spring to the beginning of fall camp likely stands a good chance of taking the first snap against the Yellow Jackets in Mercedes-Benz Stadium — just don’t be surprised if you see them both on the field to kick off the season.
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