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Vols QB competition still up in air

August 7th, 2014 10:55 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Vols QB competition still up in air

KNOXVILLE — Butch Jones couldn’t resist having a little fun with the media on Thursday afternoon.

Standing in front of Neyland Stadium after a joint press conference with NASCAR driver Austin Dillon to promote upcoming events at Bristol Motor Speedway, he responded to the often asked question about who would be the Vols’ quarterback this season.

“We’re ready to name a starting quarterback today and I’m going to take this opportunity right now to name that starting quarterback,” Jones said “It’s going to be Austin Dillon.”

Jones laughed how the media got excited and how the microphones got a little closer to him when they thought he was about to reveal the team’s plans.

He then gave a serious answer with how the job is still up in the air, more than three weeks before the Vols kick off with Utah State on Aug. 31. 

“We just have to continue to progress,” Jones said. “It’s who can make the routine plays. It’s accuracy and being a leader on and off the field. It’s managing the offense and understanding situational football and all that goes into it. 

“It’s going to be the individual who can take care of the football as well. It’s about a decision-making process. We’re not anywhere now where we can name a starting quarterback. We’ve only been through five practices now.”

Jones answered the question about what he likes about both Justin Worley and Josh Dobbs, who had split time as starting quarterback last season.

“They’re very hungry and they’re hanging on every word and every teaching point you’re giving them,” Jones said. “It’s about accuracy, how you throw with your lower body and your footwork. They continue to develop and grow. Nate Peterman is having a strong camp as well. They’re competing every day and when you compete every day, you elevate your game every day.” 

The Vols were coming off an off day Wednesday before practicing in full pads Thursday evening. Jones said there was a mindset at the last practice to get better and the coaching staff has turned it into a daily competition among all players and units.

“We are going to compete in every drill,” Jones said. “There will be an overall winner as far as offense and defense. Defense won the last practice, 102-92.”

While Thursday’s press conference promoted both the IRWIN Tools Night Race on Aug. 23 at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Vols’ upcoming season, the parties also looked ahead to the ‘Battle at Bristol’ labeled football’s biggest game ever on Sept. 10, 2016. It’s been 10 months since the game between Tennessee and Virginia Tech was announced.

Jones said there are constant reminders of the game.

“Right now, we’re just focusing on one day, the task at hand,” Jones said. “But from a recruiting standpoint and a big-picture standpoint of what’s going on at Tennessee, to be able to play in the biggest game ever attendance-wise whether it’s college or professional football, that’s a tremendous opportunity for our student-athletes. “We’re Tennessee’s football team and to be able to play at Bristol Motor Speedway versus a quality opponent in Virginia Tech and coach Frank Beamer, it’s a tremendous opportunity to play in that game and break a world record.”

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