Tennessee went through its first scrimmage under Josh Heupel on Thursday, which was closed to fans and media. Heupel was available to speak about it afterwards, however. Of course, the first thing on everyone’s mind was the quarterback battle.
Hendon Hooker, Brian Maurer and Harrison Bailey are battling it out this spring, each looking to find their way in a new offensive system. The battle could go in any direction at this point, and that’s exactly how Heupel treated the situation on Thursday.
“I thought the quarterbacks did a good job of handling all those things really well throughout the day,” Heupel said after the scrimmage. “We played error-free for the most part. Each quarterback has kind of been designated that they were going to run with the ones, twos or the threes on that day. To get into a scrimmage, it’s a little bit different. They basically rotated through, got a set with the ones, next time running with the twos and threes and it got late in the scrimmage, kind of based everything off a play count and you got those guys close to evening out a little bit.”
Hooker, coming from Virginia Tech, easily has the most experience. Both Maurer and Bailey do have a couple of starts under their belt, while true freshman Kaidon Salter remains suspended for the time being.
Through a couple of weeks of practice, no quarterback has stood out above the rest — at least in the reports we’ve gotten to this point.
“I thought all three of them did a really good job of managing the game,” Heupel said. “Communication was good, not great. We can be better in that area. But they pushed the tempo, were pretty sound in their decision-making in the pass game. All three of them took care of the football and allowed us to move the football at times as well. So, they’re picking it up, never where you want it to be. You’re always pushing to be further ahead, but they are a competitive group that approaches the meeting room and the practice field the right way.”
Tennessee is working towards the Orange and White Game, which will be played on April 24th. It will be our only live look at the Josh Heupel era before the games begin next fall, and our first look at the new warp-speed offense.
The Volunteers will be back on the practice field on Saturday at Neyland Stadium for an open practice.