John Adams: Vols have to worry about more quarterbacks than their own

John Adams
Tennessee quarterback Riley Ferguson during practice at Haslam Field on Saturday, August 10, 2013.

(SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Saul Young

Tennessee quarterback Riley Ferguson during practice at Haslam Field on Saturday, August 10, 2013. (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

The quarterback competition has understandably been the newsiest theme of Tennessee’s preseason training camp. And no one is more aware of that than first-year coach Butch Jones.

So when he complimented freshman quarterback Riley Ferguson on Friday, he quickly put his assessment in perspective for the assembled media.

“He’s not the starting quarterback,” said a coach wary of runaway headlines.

Two weeks short of the season opener, UT still hasn’t eliminated any one of four quarterback candidates, which means it has made less progress in that regard than any other team in the SEC.

But as significant as the choice might be, there’s another quarterback issue worth noting: opposing quarterbacks versus Tennessee’s pass defense.

When the Vols opened preseason camp, it was natural to assume their pass defense would be improved after giving up more touchdown passes and registering fewer sacks than any other SEC team last season.

One plus: safety Brian Randolph was back, after suffering a season-ending injury last September.

Another plus: Sal Sunseri, last year’s defensive coordinator, was not back.

And another: A general belief that a new coaching staff would do more with the same old players.

However, when you take a hard look at Tennessee’s defense right now — and the competition coming its way — those pluses don’t loom as large.

The Vols seem terribly vulnerable at cornerback, where they’re counting on true freshmen for depth.

And you still have to wonder who will provide the outside pass rush.

The status of defensive end Jacques Smith is in doubt for the season opener after he underwent surgery to repair a broken thumb. But he should be ready at least by the second game.

His health isn’t the biggest concern.

The former No. 1 prospect in the state of Tennessee has never been a consistently productive player. And he’s running out of time.

So is senior Marlon Walls, the other stating defensive end.

In three seasons, Smith has a grand total of 4.5 sacks. In 31 career games, including five starts, Walls has one sack.

UT’s lack of a pass rush and its vulnerabilities in coverage likely will be exploited by a schedule that includes some of the best quarterbacks in the country, starting with Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

Later, the Vols will have to deal with Georgia’s Aaron Murray, South Carolina’s Connor Shaw, and Alabama’s AJ McCarron. The three quarterbacks combined to complete 73.8 percent of their passes for an average of 316 yards per game against Tennessee last season.

Also, UT opponents with quarterback questions have made progress this preseason.

James Franklin has held on to his starting job at Missouri, and supposedly looked more like the star player of 2011 than the one handicapped by injuries last season.

Auburn’s two quarterbacks with starting experience have both been passed this preseason by junior college transfer Nick Marshall and freshman Jeremy Johnson.

Austyn Carta-Samuels, Vanderbilt’s new starting quarterback, has had an impressive preseason. He could turn out to be an upgrade over departed starter Jordan Rodgers.

Maybe a competent quarterback eventually will emerge for the Vols, too. But that won’t resolve their other quarterback problem.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 27

DawgDayAfternoon writes:

Adams is spot on. With the Vols not having enough faith in Butchie Boy to buy their own tickets, the Dawgs will turn Neyland red and administer the 4th straight Dawg-whipping on the Big Gray.

Rock_E_Topp88 writes:

in response to DawgDayAfternoon:

Adams is spot on. With the Vols not having enough faith in Butchie Boy to buy their own tickets, the Dawgs will turn Neyland red and administer the 4th straight Dawg-whipping on the Big Gray.

What a fraud you are Flowers. You have been outed now and everyone knows you are not a UGA fan. Come to think of it, you are not a Vol fan. You are just a bitter old never-was athlete who still could not carry Richmond's jockstrap....but I am sure you tried it on many times. ES&D

voloffaith writes:

in response to DawgDayAfternoon:

Adams is spot on. With the Vols not having enough faith in Butchie Boy to buy their own tickets, the Dawgs will turn Neyland red and administer the 4th straight Dawg-whipping on the Big Gray.

Praying for you.....if you are "CUBICLE BOY" just stirring up the pot that you will be convicted about a life of deceit and repent. Or, if this really is your true daily existence that you will come to Jesus Christ and ask for forgiveness fo your sins and have true joy fill your heart. Then ,as led by His Sprirt, you will make those things right where you can and have offended many. I for one will willingly forgive you whether you ask or not. True joy in the midst of the storm...imagine that....

usafvol writes:

The fact that Dawgday and Nine posted so close together tells me they may be sharing a computer; probably more than that! ;)

BolivrBob writes:

Myy believe is that all of our quarterbacks are competent. And it could be argued that Continuing with competition At this point Is not necessarily A lack of progress. Worley Is competent But really has not shown flashes of brilliance. If he had it we would have seen it by now. All three of the others should have the chance To prove they have that special quality Beyond competent good and average. I believe both Ferguson and Dobbs both Both have the potential to be that kind of player. Maybe even Peterman too. I believe butch thinks he will be kind of okay with Worley But is really looking for the guy that has that special quality And it's probably Ferguson

orangecountyvols writes:

USAF,

Hilarious friend, your comment about the 2 trolls, Wilted Flowers and 9 is just a jealous troll.

Speaking of jealous, how else can we explain Wilted being so consumed with former players and coaches, especially since he was never able to become either of them.

Notably, Glenn Ford, Karl Kremser, Johnny Majors, Hart, Shofner, Butch Jones.........and on it goes.

9? This clown has never nor will he ever answer the question........."idiot, tell us why you're here."

Yes, these 2 are creepy at best.

Rumblefish writes:

I love these idiots who say John Adams is "spot on". Uhh.....where exactly is the insight in his stories??? NOWHERE.

JA...is aka....CAPTAIN OBVIOUS.

Rumblefish writes:

"UT’s lack of a pass rush and its vulnerabilities in coverage likely will be exploited by a schedule that includes some of the best quarterbacks in the country, starting with Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

Later, the Vols will have to deal with Georgia’s Aaron Murray, South Carolina’s Connor Shaw, and Alabama’s AJ McCarron."

Hey John...who among us didn't know that???

KNS...fire this hack already. Surely you've read the reader comments regarding him. He is overwhelmingly disliked by the readers.

ambrown64 writes:

We play 3 of the top 5, and 5 of the top 10. That means that we play alot of teams that a) have superior athletes, and b) know how to execute with few mistakes. A + B = WINS. I want to see us compete. I want to see resilience. I want to see a staff that really never really gets scared, spazzes out or loses their team. If we have stable leadership, solid command structure, a decent plan and operational consistency, I will not be too disappointed by a middling record. Undermanned will shortly fix itself.

I expect the adversity, but I'd like to see them grow and get tougher from it. The last few years, we just folded. If Butch can keep the environment cool, and keep his team's spirit alive, luck may break their way at some point and maybe we sneak in a few moments of greatness. They are gonna lose games, but if they respond like winners, then they are winners.

It's been awhile since we've been helmed by a man that knows hows to build things. I like Butch, and I like the way he has a plan, his staff is a pretty tight operation, and the man is steady onward, no drama, no ups and downs, just the same businesslike demeanor every day. The last two were pretty catastrophic as leaders. One tried to take shortcuts and had no respect for the place or it's long-term health, the other lacked direction and skill. Our performance has been awful, but even worse, the culture of Tennessee football is several years away now from having the right foundation and temperament.

My ramblings aside, what I want to see this year is clear evidence that we have REAL sturdy, steady-handed leadership. I am not sure what won/loss record I expect. I think it has more to do with their valiance in battle.

GerryOP writes:

What I find amusing is how people judge this year's defense based on last year's defense! Really folks, if this year's defense is that bad, we should put a "For Sale" up in front of Neyland and turn the footVols practice fields into public picnic areas. Really.

budd#207344 writes:

The Jones regime has done everything right thus far. Now we will find out if they can do the really important stuff- Coach. There is talent on this team. It needs to be coached up. The secondary is a concern but Smith and Walls both came here as top dogs. They need to be coached and show it. If we can get a pass rush I think the DBs will be ok.
We have the Oline to dominate everyone but ALA and SC. If we dominate the rest offensively and run well we should go 6-6 or 7-5. Even 5-7 with improvement week to week will show coaching talent. That is what I want to know. Can they coach em up?

budd#207344 writes:

in response to billyvolsfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Oh " billyvolsfans" thank you for your enlightenment. Since I am not as smart as you I will wait till the season is over to judge.

snafu14u#241639 writes:

in response to billyvolsfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

imposter

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to billyvolsfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

This is why cousins should not marry....

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to ReeseHallRelic:

This is why cousins should not marry....

Best comment I've read in a long time.

OrangePride writes:

Boy, you are always just a bright ray of sunshine here in Vol Country, aren't you there JA! Always a nice pick-me-up to read your columns on how the VOLS just aren't in position to do squat. MEMO TO JA: In case you weren't looking, Tennessee actually has some excellent QB options this year and they are EVERY BIT AS GOOD OR BETTER THAN ANYTHING DOWN IN FRANKLINVILLE, TN!!! OK....Georgia, SC, and Bama have experienced and solid QB's, we all know that. But as for the rest of this league (including Florida), then no; they do not represent such scary talent that we need to have Hart buy out the games. Good grief, but you can be a Debbie Downer! (And please don't give us the, "I just tell the things as they are defense again.")

OrangePride writes:

in response to BolivrBob:

Myy believe is that all of our quarterbacks are competent. And it could be argued that Continuing with competition At this point Is not necessarily A lack of progress. Worley Is competent But really has not shown flashes of brilliance. If he had it we would have seen it by now. All three of the others should have the chance To prove they have that special quality Beyond competent good and average. I believe both Ferguson and Dobbs both Both have the potential to be that kind of player. Maybe even Peterman too. I believe butch thinks he will be kind of okay with Worley But is really looking for the guy that has that special quality And it's probably Ferguson

The writing lab is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday morning.

OrangePride writes:

in response to DawgDayAfternoon:

Adams is spot on. With the Vols not having enough faith in Butchie Boy to buy their own tickets, the Dawgs will turn Neyland red and administer the 4th straight Dawg-whipping on the Big Gray.

That's right DawgDish; you guys just keep thinking you can look past us and chalk this up as a win, no big deal. But, when you waltz into Neyland with that attitude, you are likely to get a real shock and leave with a genuine Butchslapping! (Which is precisely what you deserve, troll!)

Orange_Beach writes:

in response to GerryOP:

What I find amusing is how people judge this year's defense based on last year's defense! Really folks, if this year's defense is that bad, we should put a "For Sale" up in front of Neyland and turn the footVols practice fields into public picnic areas. Really.

Sunseri may be gone but the bulk of last years defense is still around, and that's not a good thing for you. Other than the quick money I still don't understand why Sal took that job in the first place. It was almost like career suicide because everybody knew Doofus was going to be gone after last year.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

I love these idiots who say John Adams is "spot on". Uhh.....where exactly is the insight in his stories??? NOWHERE.

JA...is aka....CAPTAIN OBVIOUS.

Phrase Ban should include "spot on"

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Orange_Beach:

Sunseri may be gone but the bulk of last years defense is still around, and that's not a good thing for you. Other than the quick money I still don't understand why Sal took that job in the first place. It was almost like career suicide because everybody knew Doofus was going to be gone after last year.

Can't argue with you about Sunseri, but as for the returning players, the year before Sunseri the Vols were quite respectable on defense and many of those players are still around. The ones that have been added since can bolster the talent and numbers. With better coaching, it is not unreasonable to think they might be more respectable again this year. They would almost have to be!

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

Does John Adams also work for MSNBC? ;)

creekroad writes:

in response to DutchOrangeVolsOrange:

Does John Adams also work for MSNBC? ;)

John doesn't work, he just pretends to be a writer

edee writes:

Is John Adams the same one that said everyone should pull for Johnny "THE MONEY" QB at texas a&m to not be punished

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to budd#207344:

The Jones regime has done everything right thus far. Now we will find out if they can do the really important stuff- Coach. There is talent on this team. It needs to be coached up. The secondary is a concern but Smith and Walls both came here as top dogs. They need to be coached and show it. If we can get a pass rush I think the DBs will be ok.
We have the Oline to dominate everyone but ALA and SC. If we dominate the rest offensively and run well we should go 6-6 or 7-5. Even 5-7 with improvement week to week will show coaching talent. That is what I want to know. Can they coach em up?

It's a little late in the game to be coaching up Walls and Smith on how to rush a QB..There are about 5 or 6 basic techniques that all DE's use to get by the tackle or a double team.It's not overly complicated. Even if past DL coaches were idiots; all you have to do is watch some of the miles of game film of all the DE's the SEC are sending to the pros. Your either working at your trade to get better or your not. Shedding blockers isn't brain surgery

Supersayin1 writes:

in response to creekroad:

John doesn't work, he just pretends to be a writer

Nahhh Fox (Lie to me) News!

tovolny writes:

Where'S THE NEWS?...This article by John Adams reminds me of that old "where's the beef" commercial. What John is saying is: these other teams have good established QB's and the Vols do not...yah nah yah nah yah yah. My wife, who is good at watching football, but doesn't keep up with anything until the ball is kicked off, might appreciate this article if by some miracle she decided to read something about the UT quarterback situation. Other than that, I would bet that all the regular readers of GoVolsXtra know more about Tennessee football and the upcoming season than ole Long John does...COM'ON John, we challenge you to provide us some real news.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features