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  • Tennessee could start freshman QB in opener

    Aug. 20, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer are trying to accomplish a feat that even Peyton Manning couldn't pull off at Tennessee -- start at quarterback in the season-opener as a freshman.

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    Ainge and Schaeffer now share the No. 1 spot on the depth chart after coach Phillip Fulmer on Thursday bumped sixth-year senior C.J. Leak and junior Rick Clausen to No. 2.

    Fulmer hasn't named a starter, but his preference is clear.

    "It could change. I don't anticipate that, but it certainly could. If they spit the bit out between now and Saturday, then we might have to go in another direction. I have been very impressed," Fulmer said.

    "It would be easy to sit here and kind of stay status quo. The right thing for our football team is to make this happen now."

    The 14th-ranked Volunteers open at home against UNLV on Sept. 5.

    Ainge stands 6-foot-6 and often draws comparisons to Manning, who didn't break into the starting lineup until the fifth game of his freshman season.

    Ainge is the nephew of Danny Ainge, director of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics and a former Celtics player.

    Schaeffer is 6-2 with good mobility. He had a 34-yard run up the middle while dodging tacklers during Wednesday's scrimmage.

    The freshmen quarterbacks have been off-limits for interviews since media day.

    Only four quarterbacks in Tennessee history have started as freshmen since 1972, when the NCAA allowed freshmen to be eligible. The four are Alan ****rell (1981), Manning ('94), Casey Clausen (2000) and James Banks, who started one game for an injured Clausen in 2002.

    Clausen became the starter in the sixth game, but Fulmer has said he could have started the opener if he had not hurt his shoulder.

    "That would have been much like this situation except he had spring practice," Fulmer said.

    Manning played in the 1994 opener after starter Jerry Colquitt was hurt. Manning didn't get to start until Colquitt's backup, Todd Helton, was injured.

    Fulmer said he wanted to name a starter soon and let the staff "build our offense around what they can do."

    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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  • DJRamFan
    Fulmer: Ainge to start vs. UAB; Clausen will play, too
    by DJRamFan
    Aug. 27, 2005
    CBS SportsLine.com wire reports




    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Sophomore Erik Ainge will start at quarterback in Tennessee's opener, beating out senior Rick Clausen in a close competition.

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    But coach Phillip Fulmer said Saturday both quarterbacks will play Sept. 3 at home against UAB. Fulmer added Ainge won't automatically start for the third-ranked Volunteers in their second game of the season at Florida.

    "Erik is our quarterback right now, but we have two quarterbacks," Fulmer said. "Rick did a great job. It wasn't one of those clear-cut things."

    Ainge and Brent Schaeffer got the nod last season ahead of Clausen and C.J. Leak. Schaeffer ended up starting the opener, but Ainge took over at midseason, leading the Volunteers to victories at Georgia and Alabama before separating his shoulder in November.

    Clausen started the final four games of the season. He was named the offensive MVP of the Cotton Bowl, a 38-7 victory over Texas A&M. Schaeffer has transferred.

    "Obviously I'm excited I'm going to take the first snap, but in no means have I won the starting position. Someone has to take the first snap," Ainge said. "If I were to go out there and not play well, not perform, it's not like we're putting in a backup quarterback in Rick Clausen. Rick Clausen is a great quarterback."

    Ainge, nephew of Celtics head of basketball operations Danny Ainge, was the 2003 Gatorade player of the year in Oregon.

    Clausen, the younger brother of former Vols quarterback Casey Clausen, transferred from LSU in 2003 and was elected a team captain.

    Fulmer declined to say how or how often he plans to rotate the quarterbacks. He and his staff met Saturday morning to make the final decision and told the team at practice.

    "We think he gives us more mobility," Fulmer said of Ainge. "Gives us little more arm. That is nothing to take away from what Rick did."

    Fulmer called Clausen as the team's "white knight" for his performance last season after being demoted and then moving up to starter.

    "They made a decision. You just have to live with it. It is what it is, and that's basically the way I'm going to approach it," Clausen said.

    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004-2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -08-28-2005, 08:29 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Tennessee likely without freshman QBs for Cotton Bowl
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 27, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    IRVING, Texas -- Both of Tennessee's freshman quarterbacks may be out for the Cotton Bowl.

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    Junior Rick Clausen will start as planned in Saturday's game against Texas A&M (7-4).

    The Vols (9-3) had hoped freshman Brent Schaeffer would be able to play some after returning for the first time since breaking his collarbone Oct. 30 at South Carolina.

    But Schaeffer has been unable to practice in Texas because of with flu-like symptoms.

    Coach Phillip Fulmer said on Monday that Schaeffer was "day-to-day," and hoped he would practice Tuesday.

    "Outside (Tuesday) it's going to be very difficult for him to be able to play. I'm hopeful to get him back. If we get him back (Tuesday) or maybe even Wednesday and Thursday if (he) can practice, he might be able to help us," Fulmer said. "But it's almost beyond the point now where he can't get enough work to get it done. It's unfortunate."

    Schaeffer was able to practice in Knoxville, Tenn., before the players went home for Christmas. Tennessee began practice here on Sunday.

    The Vols' other freshman QB -- Erik Ainge -- hasn't played since separating his shoulder against Notre Dame on Nov. 6. He will not play in the Cotton Bowl, Fulmer said.

    Clausen has started the last three games in place of the freshmen.

    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -12-28-2004, 09:48 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Outgoing Notre Dame president criticizes firing of Willingham
    by DJRamFan
    Dec 8, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame's outgoing president criticized the decision to fire Tyrone Willingham after just three seasons, saying he was surprised the coach was not given more time to try to succeed.

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    "I'm a good soldier and in times of transition, people can disagree," the Sports Business Daily quoted Rev. Edward Malloy as saying at a sports conference in New York. "I don't think there is a lack of goodwill or that anybody else is to be blamed for a racist decision or anything else. I just think there was a lot of pressure in the works."

    The Sports Business Daily quoted Malloy as saying he was embarrassed by the football coach's firing. His remarks came at a forum on intercollegiate athletics.

    "In my 18 years, there have been only two days that I have been embarrassed to be president of Notre Dame: Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, because I felt we had not abided by our precedent," Malloy was quoted as saying. "It was our (athletic director Kevin White and Malloy) expectation that we would live by our precedent, which was a five-year window for a coach to display the capacity to be successful within our system.

    "Both of us have a very high regard for (Willingham). ... We had a meeting called by my successor (Rev. John Jenkins) with a strong presence of the Board of Trustees, which led to a result," Malloy said.

    University spokesman Matt Storin issued a statement Wednesday saying there was "debate and disagreement" over the firing, and that Malloy deferred because of his pending retirement on June 30.

    Notre Dame reportedly is preparing to meet with Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator and former Irish quarterback Tom Clements about its vacancy.

    Clements, 51, has connections to two of Notre Dame's most successful coaches. He played under Ara Parseghian, leading the 1973 team to a national championship, and was an assistant under Lou Holtz from 1992-95.

    "He has a good football mind, he's a good, solid person, and he's a Notre Dame alum," Holtz told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -12-08-2004, 05:34 PM
  • DJRamFan
    QB Mitchell will start South Carolina's season opener
    by DJRamFan
    Aug. 4, 2005
    CBS SportsLine.com wire reports




    COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has found a starting quarterback in Blake Mitchell -- at least for the season opener against Central Florida.

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    "Blake's earned it and he's our starter," Spurrier said after practice Thursday night.

    Spurrier said the coaching staff decided that Mitchell, a sophomore, should start the Sept. 1 game at Williams-Brice Stadium.

    "Obviously if he plays well he will be the quarterback for the entire season barring injury," Spurrier said. "We felt like Blake is much better prepared mentally and physically. He's had an excellent summer working out and it's clear to all of us here that he's our best guy to go out there."

    Mitchell, 6-foot-3, 194 pounds, played in five games last season, going 9-for-22 for 86 yards passing and a touchdown.

    Mitchell played extensively in the Garnet and Black spring game this past April, completing 12-of-23 passes for 175 yards and a TD.

    The Gamecocks have only had three practices since camp began. The quick decision even surprised Mitchell.

    "It was something I wasn't expecting to hear this early in camp," said Mitchell.

    Mitchell came into fall camp battling Antonio Heffner and Brett Nichols at the quarterback spot. Spurrier had said he also wanted to look at newcomers Cade Thompson and Tommy Beecher.

    "I busted my tail and I did the best I could to give myself every opportunity to be the number one guy. I was out there every day (this summer)," Mitchell said. "I think that showed them I wanted to be a leader on the team."

    While Spurrier said the choice of Mitchell was obvious, he wasn't sure of his rotation after that. "Backups -- we don't know yet," Spurrier said. "We're trying a lot of guys right there."

    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004-2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -08-08-2005, 06:23 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Vols storm back to defeat Kentucky in SEC title-game tuneup
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 27, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer was -- in a word -- relieved.

    With an appearance in the Southeastern Conference title game already wrapped up, the No. 15 Volunteers rallied with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to avoid an embarrassing loss and beat Kentucky 37-31 on Saturday.

    And while a field goal would have given Tennessee the lead in the final minute, the Vols didn't want to risk it after Kentucky had already blocked two kicks.

    Gerald Riggs finally put Tennessee ahead to stay with a 12-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds remaining.

    "Really relieved," Fulmer said. "I love each and every one of these guys, but they are making an old man out of me and the rest of the staff."

    Kentucky (2-9, 1-7) lost its 20th straight game to Tennessee, though the Vols' defense had another lackluster effort in its regular-season finale.

    On a cold rainy day, the Vols (9-2, 7-1) found themselves down 31-22 in the fourth quarter to one of the worst offenses in the country.

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    A trick play helped start the comeback. Rick Clausen tossed the ball to C.J. Fayton, who completed a 53-yard pass to Robert Meachem at the Kentucky 12. Tony Brown scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Clausen two plays later.

    Clausen was intercepted on Tennessee's next possession, but Kentucky could not take advantage and had to punt.

    The Vols got the ball back at their 40 with about 4 minutes left and trailing 31-29.

    They marched into field-goal range, but with Kentucky's Lonnell Dewalt having blocked an extra-point kick and a field goal earlier in the game, Tennessee passed up a chance to let the kicker try to win it.

    Dewalt finished the season with seven blocked kicks, a school record.

    Riggs ran straight through the line on third down for the touchdown, and Cedric Houston added another run for the 2-point conversion.

    Tennessee's Corey Campbell intercepted Shane Boyd's pass with 6 seconds left to seal the win.

    "We were able to overcome some of our mistakes in the first half," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. "In the fourth quarter, the offense went into hibernation."

    The Vols said they believed they would win.

    "It seems like we've been down a lot in the fourth this season so it wasn't too bad. We were confident we could do what we needed to win," Tennessee offensive guard Rob Smith said.

    Clausen, playing for injured freshmen Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer, was 26-of-41 for 349 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Houston had 127 yards rushing on 24 carries, and Meachem had five catches for 145 yards and a touchdown.

    The Vols rolled...
    -11-28-2004, 05:25 PM
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