KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee football history suggests a new quarterback means a drop-off in the win totals, but there have been exceptions.
Sports Source television host John Pennington researched the past 30 years of new Tennessee quarterbacks for Sunday’s show on WATE-6 to come up with the revealing statistics.
The Vols will have a new quarterback this season, with junior Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano the front-runners to win the starting job this season.
Tennessee is coming off back-to-back 9-4 seasons with NFL prospect Josh Dobbs at the helm.
But it might be too much to expect another 9-win season in 2017, as Pennington explained on his program.
“Only two times did the Vols win more games with a new quarterback than they did the year before, (and) three times they won the same amount, and five times the win total slipped,” Pennington said on the Sports Source. “They only went up in total offense two of those times.”
Dobbs was 9-4 in his first full season as a starter in 2015, but Dobbs had started games the previous year and didn’t qualify as a “new starter.”
Knoxville News Sentinel columnist Mike Strange said research he did suggests that if a freshman is running the show, 9 wins could be out of reach in 2017.
“If you go through a season where a freshman starts all or most of your games,” Strange said on Sunday’s Sports Source show, “8 wins was about the ceiling.”
The most noteworthy exception to the new quarterback rule came in 1998, when Tee Martin replaced Tennessee all-time great Peyton Manning and led the Vols to a national championship.
Martin is currently the offensive coordinator at Southern Cal.
Another exception was in 2004, when the Vols opened the season splitting quarterback reps between freshmen Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer.
Injuries to both of those young quarterbacks, however, led to unheralded transfer Rick Clausen taking over under center and leading Tennessee to the 2004 SEC Championship Game against Auburn.
Ainge led the Vols to their most recent SEC championship game appearance in 2007 before being selected in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.