Tennessee ended spring football with its starting quarterback officially in doubt, although its fan base wouldn't have any problem endorsing freshman Tyler Bray following his performance in the spring game. But if it's any consolation to UT fans, the uncertainty at the position is shared by most of UT's 2010 opponents.
Defending national champion Alabama is the only team on UT's schedule which has its starter returning and is perfectly content with that. Greg McElroy is hardly the most talented quarterback in the SEC, but he was good enough to lead Alabama to an unbeaten season in 2009 and actually outplayed Florida's Tim Tebow in the SEC championship game.
Moreover, he fits the Nick Saban quarterback prototype, which means he makes good decisions, gets the ball to the right people and protects the football. Alabama's defense and running backs can do the heavy lifting.
Florida should feel just as confident about its next quarterback. John Brantley has a quick release and a smooth delivery, and his teammates rave about his accuracy. Yet, for all the talent he has flashed as Tebow's backup, you can't assume he will perform like a future first-round draft pick in his first college road start, which happens to be at Neyland Stadium.
Here's how UT's other 10 opponents shape up at quarterback:
UT Martin - Derek Carr is the likely candidate to replace two-year starter Cade Thompson, a former Maryville High star. Carr will make his first college start at Neyland Stadium.
Hint to Carr: Don't consult former Cal quarterback Nate Longshore for advice.
Oregon - Jeremiah Masoli was expected to enter the season as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Instead, he has been suspended for the season after pursuing robbery as a leisure activity.
Nate Costa and Darron Thomas, who are not Heisman candidates, combined to complete 16 of 43 passes for 178 yards in the first Ducks scrimmage (UT's Matt Simms and Bray did better than that).
Costa, who is the likely starter, has missed two full seasons with injuries. UT fans can only hope his Saturday at Neyland Stadium goes as well as that of the last Pac-10 quarterback named Nate.
UAB - More good news for the Vols. Quarterback Joe Webb, who ranked sixth nationally in total offense last season, has run out of eligibility.
David Isabelle, who is competing with Bryan Ellis for the starting job, was the most effective quarterback in UAB's spring game, completing 10 of 14 passes and rushing for 99 yards.
The Blazers' only road game before their trip to Neyland Stadium will be at SMU, which means Isabelle's introduction to big-time college football on the road will come against the Vols.
Hint to Isabelle: Don't consult former Cal quarterback Nate Longshore for advice.
LSU - Coach Les Miles emphasized a strong, physical running game in the spring, which makes you wonder if he expected quarterback Jordan Jefferson to regress.
Jefferson was 8-for-23 passing for 94 yards against an injury-depleted defense in the spring game. That's almost as scary to LSU fans as the speculation that former starter Jarrett Lee, who threw 16 interceptions in 2008, could unseat him.
Georgia - The Bulldogs don't know who their quarterback is, which some would conclude is an improvement over last year's starter, Joe Cox.
Logan Gray has experience and mobility on his side. Redshirt freshman Aaron Murray was a high school All-American. But neither was as impressive in the spring game as Zach Mettenberger, who was subsequently kicked off the team.
South Carolina - Coach Steve Spurrier's assessment of veteran quarterback Stephen Garcia was the most significant news of the Gamecocks' spring practice. Although Garcia ranked second in the SEC in passing yards per game last fall, he didn't perform as Spurrier had hoped this spring.
Garcia's commitment has been questioned more than his talent. If his commitment is still an issue this season, a frustrated Spurrier might pull some fourth-stringer out from behind a clipboard and summon him into the game.
A part-time quarterback alternative would be cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who has excelled in the Wildcat package.
Memphis - The Tigers could start a freshman, Ryan Williams, who was named offensive MVP of the Blue-Gray game after completing 14 consecutive passes. But that wasn't good enough to win the starting job, according to first-year head coach Larry Porter.
Williams' strongest challenge is apt to come from Cannon Smith, whose father is Fred "FedEx" Smith.
Ole Miss - Nathan Stanley is the frontrunner to replace Jevon Snead, but Raymond Cotton was better in the spring game. Cotton, who is 6-foot-4, 228 pounds, is still bothered by a slight tear in his labrum, which makes his spring-game performance (5-for-7 and 178 yards) more noteworthy.
Vanderbilt - Larry Smith is the returning starter at quarterback. He completed one of five passes for 4 yards in the Black & Gold scrimmage.
I will resist the urge to pile on.
Kentucky - Former starter Mike Hartline is back after missing most of last season with an injury. He has never impressed me as anything more than a caretaker.
Morgan Newton, who started eight games last season as a freshman, would at least give the Wildcats another running threat.
John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or email@example.com.