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QB Stephens Leaves UT; Vols Might Be On Pace For Worst Season Ever

First things first, Derek Dooley might be the second coming of Nick Saban.  And Matt Simms might be a better signal-caller than his father, Phil. 

Short of that, Tennessee’s football team is staring down the barrel of what could become worst season in school history.

The Vols’ only experienced quarterback — senior Nick Stephens – quit the Tennessee team today, just a couple of days after learning that Simms and true freshman Tyler Bray would be getting more first-team snaps in practice.

“In light of the way the first eight practices have gone and some of the competition we’ve created, he doesn’t want to be here and risk not playing his senior year,” Dooley said.  “Nick is in his fifth year and has been trying to get on the field his whole career.  He just felt it was too risky to go through another season, because he just wants to play.

“We hate to lose Nick but I certainly understand it.  It’s a fifth-year quarterback who hasn’t played.  You go play football to play, and I understand the emotion of it.”

The Vols now have a junior college transfer and a true freshman as their only real options at quarterback.  As recently as 2004 injuries forced Tennessee to start three QBs in a season.  This year, UT really doesn’t have a third quarterback.  At least not one who was getting any real snaps in practice this spring.

Stephens is the third experienced Vol to quit the team in the past month.  UT’s only returning offensive line starter, Aaron Douglas, plans to transfer.  And the Vols’ leading returning rusher, Bryce Brown, is away from spring practice and contemplating a transfer of his own.

Tennessee’s roster was less-talented at the end of the Phillip Fulmer regime than at any point since the late 1980s.  When Lane Kiffin arrived last year, he ran off a number of players — especially along the offensive line.  Therefore, Dooley inherited a dangerously thin roster that included:

* No returning starter at quarterback

* No returning starter on the offensive line

* No returning starter at tailback

* And no Eric Berry or Dan Williams, last season’s two best players

In addition to the thin roster (that’s getting thinner by the day), Tennessee will face Oregon, Florida, LSU, Georgia, and Alabama in its first seven games.


Twice in its history, Tennessee has lost seven games in a season.  Most recently, a 5-7 season cost Fulmer his job in 2008.  With the combination of roster holes and rough schedule, the Vols might be looking at their first ever eight-loss season in 2010.

Unless of course Dooley really does turn out to be Saban II and Simms really does play like his Super Bowl-winning papa. 




  1. [...] vote of confidence in quarterback depth.  Anyway, my header’s mild in comparison with this one.  Not to say that Pennington doesn’t have a point when you look at his analysis: … [...]

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