Sophomore Harrison Bailey may end up being the Tennessee Vols’ starting quarterback to start the 2021 season.
But if that ends up being the case, it won’t be because of what we saw this past weekend at the Vols’ annual Orange and White game.
Tennessee’s offense shined in the first spring game of the Josh Heupel era. The Vols put up 821 yards on 99 total plays on Saturday (including 573 passing yards).
Bailey, who was rated as a five-star quarterback during the recruiting process, had the best day of Tennessee’s quarterbacks.
The Georgia native finished with 260 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Based solely on what we saw in the spring game, it would be safe to surmise that Bailey will be the Vols’ starter when the season kicks off on September 4 against Bowling Green.
But that’s not how Heupel operates.
Heupel has either been playing quarterback or coaching quarterbacks for 25 years. This isn’t his first rodeo. And I can assure you that he’s not going to base who starts for the Vols this fall on what fans saw for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon.
The Orange and White game was Tennessee’s 15th and final practice of the spring. Fans and media saw very little of what actually went down with the quarterbacks in those 15 practices.
Heupel alluded to not being too caught up in what happened at the spring game on Saturday during his conversation with reporters.
“I’ve been through enough quarterback battles as a player or a coach to know that there’s so much time as you leave spring ball,” said Heupel. “We’ve had 15 practices. We’re going to have a lot more than that when we get to training camp.”
At this point, Tennessee’s offense is nowhere near entirely installed, which means Heupel has no idea which quarterback will run the full offense the most effectively.
“We’ve got a lot of football left to put in and give our kids,” explained Heupel. “We’re nowhere near our complete playbook here on either side of it.”
Heupel has been involved in plenty of quarterback battles during his football career. This is routine for him.
Fans need to trust Heupel’s process and not get too caught up in who looked the best on April 24. It’s about who looks the best this fall when most of the offense has been installed.
And there’s a long way to go until we know which quarterback that will be.
Featured image via Tennessee Athletic Communications