Seeking the right fit

For new Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin, the key to spring practice is not finding the team's best quarterback, but finding the best fit at quarterback.

Whether rising senior Jonathan Crompton, rising junior Nick Stephens or rising sophomore B. J. Coleman has the best arm, the best feet or the best mechanics is relatively unimportant. What matters most is which guy is the best operator in the new pro-style scheme the Vols are incorporating this spring.

"You see it all the time," Kiffin said recently. "The best example I can give you is free agency in the NFL. Why does a guy get paid all of this money in free agency, then he goes somewhere and he's not very productive? And why do you see another guy get a minimum contract and he goes somewhere and plays really great (like) the Matt Cassel scenario with the Patriots?"

The Vol coach could scarcely care less that none of UT's returning quarterbacks was particularly effective running Tennessee's West Coast offense in 2008. That was a different year and a different system. What they do this year in this system is all that matters.

"There's absolutely no carryover from what was being done before – terminology or scheme-wise," Kiffin said. "You've got to scheme in your own system."

The head man watched very little film of UT's quarterbacks from last season, lest he develop preconceived notions that might color his judgment this spring. The reasoning is sound: If you go into spring practice believing Quarterback A is the best, you subconsciously will focus on performances which support that opinion.

Kiffin put it this way: "Instead of watching and making the judgment 'This guy's better than this guy,' as coaches you'll draw the guys that way. It'll be your natural tendency.

"That's why I don't want our coaches to start saying 'This guy is better' based on last year's film because they'll make that happen. That's the last thing you want because you're not really finding the best guy."

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