Tuesday, September 6, 2005
Ainge out, Clausen in as Tennessee starting QB
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Rick Clausen will take over at starting
quarterback for No. 6 Tennessee, replacing Erik Ainge for the
Volunteers' next game in two weeks, coach Phillip Fulmer said
Tennessee has this week off before back-to-back road games at
Florida and LSU.
The Vols' lackluster performance Saturday in a 17-10
season-opening victory over UAB dropped them from No. 3 to No. 6 in
The Associated Press poll released Tuesday.
Fulmer named Ainge the starter for the UAB game, saying the
sophomore offered a stronger arm and more mobility than Clausen.
But Clausen, a senior, played better in the game. Ainge had two
"Rick will start and we'll rotate probably," Fulmer said after
practice. "I want somebody to take the job and it be it."
Both will continue to split time. Fulmer said he was not very
concerned about the quarterback shuffle because he believes both
are talented. Clausen and Ainge each started games last season.
"They split the reps [in practice]. We have two quarterbacks.
Whoever runs out there first will be first," Fulmer said.
Clausen, younger brother of former Vols quarterback Casey
Clausen, said after the game he wanted the questions about the
quarterback situation to stop.
"Whether I'm starting or not doesn't matter. My job on this
football team is to go out and be a leader," he said.
Clausen entered Saturday's game in the third series as planned
by the coaches and appeared more calm and in control.
Clausen finished 17-of-24 for 217 yards; Ainge went 5-of-14 for
Ainge and fellow freshman Brent Schaeffer beat out Clausen and
then-senior C.J. Leak a year ago. But Clausen ended up being the
starter after Ainge and Schaeffer were lost for the season with
injuries. Schaeffer transferred after the season.
Ainge talked to reporters before Fulmer had his informal news
conference after practice.
He said he was playing too fast on Saturday and that led to some
of his mistakes.
"Once you get out of that rhythm and you're trying to get back
into that rhythm sometimes you try to do too much. You want to stay
on the field, so you try to make plays happen," Ainge said.