The pressure of a quarterback battle is intense enough as it is.
It's not helping Nick Stephens any to heap even more on himself.
The Tennessee senior went into the first scrimmage of the spring trying to make a big impression in his race with Matt Simms to take over the offense, and in some ways Stephens accomplished that Thursday at Neyland Stadium. It just wasn't the one he was hoping for after a 3-for-9, six-yard passing performance according to stats provided to the media by UT.
"Personally, it didn't go well, and I'll be the first one to say it," Stephens said. "I won't try to sugarcoat anything, I didn't have that good of a day. I thought I was putting too much pressure on myself, and I'm going to get a lot better from this scrimmage to the next scrimmage. I have to, and I'm going to.
"I've been throwing the ball very accurate this whole entire camp, and I'm going to watch the film to make sure that I am. I've got the numbers to show that I am. That's not the problem right now. I was thinking a little too much today and putting too much pressure on myself to make a big play because of how bad I want it."
Obviously Simms wants the job just as much, though neither of the two favorites for it at this point did much to separate from the other in new coach Derek Dooley's first scrimmage.
Stephens apparently had an issue with nerves, rushed some throws and made a few poor decisions. Simms struggled statistically as well, finishing just 6-for-20 for 83 yards with a touchdown and an interception - leaving plenty of room to improve for both.
"I wouldn't say you expect that," Dooley said. "You always hope them to play better than they do. Some of them play a little better, and then some of them get out there and have a little anxiety because it's the first one and they want to do well. It's important to learn to just relax and play and let the play come to you.
"You know, it certainly wasn't the best performance (for Stephens) and he was probably a little late on some reads, had some batted balls - just very jittery it looked like. That's why you have a first scrimmage."
Even if the quarterbacks struggled throughout it, the Vols still had some offensive highlights.
Both quarterbacks praised the offensive line and the protection they got in the pocket. Running back Tauren Poole busted a long run and piled up 94 yards on nine carries with a touchdown. Receiver Zach Rogers caught a 22-yard touchdown and true freshman Ted Meline added a 14-yarder for a score.
But every phase had some problems to correct as well, clearly starting with some shakiness under center.
"I definitely made some mistakes, but that's football - you're going to make mistakes, especially at quarterback," Simms said. "All eyes are on us. As far as that goes, we'll see how the film looks and go from there.
"The depth chart, at the moment you really can't think about it. This is spring football. We're not going into the season, so we have plenty of time before we have to worry about that."
Neither guy at the top did much to change that depth chart in the first big opportunity. And the pressure isn't likely to go away anytime soon.
Rushing Leaders: Tauren Poole 9 for 94 yards, TD; David Oku 14 for 23 yards; Toney Williams 7 for 12 yards.
Passing Leaders: Nick Stephens 3-of-9, 6 yards; Matt Simms 6-of-20, 83 yards, TD, int.; Tyler Bray 8-of-13, 69 yards, TD, int.
Receiving Leaders: Marsalis Teague 2 for 29 yards; Gerald Jones 2 for 16 yards; Matt Milton 2 for 11 yards; Zach Rogers 1 for 22 yards, TD; Kevin Cooper 1 for 18 yards; Ted Meline 1 for 14 yards, TD; Ben Lehning 1 for 12 yards; Todd Campbell 1 for 10 yards.
Tackles Leaders: Austin Johnson 8 tackles, 2 TFL (-6) + sack (-4), int.; Herman Lathers 7 tackles, TFL (-1) + sack (-5), QB hurry; Shane Reveiz 6 tackles; Jacques Smith 6 tackles; Willie Bohannon 6 tackles, 2 TFL (-5), QB hurry; Montori Hughes 5 tackles, TFL (-1), 2 PBU; Chris Walker 4 tackles, 2 sacks (-13), QB hurry; Janzen Jackson 2 tackles, int.
Offensive Starters: Tackles Dallas Thomas and Ja’Wuan James, guards JerQuari Schofield and Jarrod Shaw, center Victor Thomas, tight end Luke Stocker, wide receivers Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones; fullback Kevin Cooper, tailback Tauren Poole, quarterback Nick Stephens
Defensive Starters: Ends Chris Walker and Gerald Williams, tackles Montori Hughes and Marlon Walls; linebackers LaMarcus Thompson, Herman Lathers and Austin Johnson; cornerbacks Eric Gordon and Naz Oliver, safeties Janzen Jackson and Darren Myles Jr.