While Tennessee is in the infancy stages of a quarterback battle between Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano, Vols coach Butch Jones still expects his two inexperienced signal-callers to set the tone for the entire team during spring practice.
On Tuesday, Jones sent his quarterbacks and receivers a message: Complacency won’t be tolerated.
Tennessee's "start fast" mantra is well-known, and Jones made the group redo a pat-and-go drill following a couple errant throws, several bad drops and an obvious lack of energy.
“The quarterbacks have got to set the table,” Jones said. “They've got to put the boat in the water and get us off with great momentum starting practice. Just like starting the game fast.”
The entire group was much sharper the second go-round, with Guarantano hitting Marquez Callaway on a perfectly-executed go-route on the sideline. Dormady connected on several nice back-shoulder throws, while tight end Ethan Wolf rebounded from a pair of drops with a couple catches.
“That wasn't up to our expectations, so it was a great teaching opportunity to restart the period and I think you guys saw a little different approach once we started the period over,” Jones said.
“But in football there are no do-overs. You work year-round for 12 opportunities looking to play a few more, so every opportunity out here, whether it's spring practice, summer strength-and-conditioning in the weight room, there can be no wasted days. That’s part of the maturity of a football team to understand that.”
During the first four practices this spring, both Dormady and Guarantano have had their moments, but Jones again reiterated the competition is just getting started. He likes their “workmanlike approach,” and wants the entire unit — Sheriron Jones and Will McBride, too — to just worry about improving and not focus on the job’s outcome.
“They have to just worry about winning the day and getting better,” he said.
“And I see that each and everyday. The biggest thing of playing quarterback, obviously, is taking care of the football and leadership, but also consistency in performance everyday.”