Tennessee quarterback Coleman staying focused

John Moorehouse • Apr 6, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KNOXVILLE — B.J. Coleman’s mother taught him to give a firm handshake. That’s something the Chattanooga native takes to nearly bone-crunching levels.

Though currently behind in the competition to become Tennessee’s starting quarterback, Coleman continues to take another family lesson to heart.

Don’t quit.

Coleman certainly didn’t do that. Not after new coach Lane Kiffin singled out and praised Jonathan Crompton after the team scrimmage on March 28, and not after Crompton got the majority of the first-team reps in the ensuing week of practice.

Though working primarily with the second team in Saturday’s scrimmage at Neyland Stadium, Coleman put together a statistical performance superior to that of Crompton: 17-of-22 passing for 112 yards.

“I think today was a huge keystone in the whole competition,” Coleman said after the scrimmage. “The most important thing today was for us to take our offensive units today and get them in the end zone. Get points. Execute. Very pleased with that today.”

Coleman might be a Tennessee native playing instate, but he’ll have to get more acclimated to matters related to the left coast to wrest starting-quarterback duties away from Crompton. Coleman, now learning his third scheme in as many seasons under his third offensive coordinator, notes the new offense brought in by Kiffin has more West Coast elements than the attack concocted by either David Cutcliffe or Dave Clawson.

“I think once you get the grasp and the concept of this scheme, it’s going to be unbelievably special,” Coleman said. “This offense is high powered. It’s designed for people to catch balls and make big plays, to take the handoff and take it 100 yards.

“I think the most important thing for us quarterbacks is to distribute the ball where it needs to go, make good decisions, and be accurate. Be on target.”

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney was hesitant to acknowledge one quarterback over the other after Saturday’s scrimmage. Nick Stephens, who still is working his way back from a broken wrist, did not participate.

“I think every one of them had their moments,” Chaney said. “It seems like it’s a repeat offense every time we come out. They have some good things, and they have some bad things. But that’s the one position I’m really hesitant to ever critique until I go in and watch that film.”

THIS IS THE END: Gerald Williams began his Tennessee career at linebacker, moved to defensive end, then went back to linebacker once spring practice began. Williams wanted the chance to play what he felt was his natural position.

No longer. Williams has made the move back to defensive end and, this time, it appears to be permanent.

“The adjustment is going real good,” Williams said. “The team needed me at defensive end, so I’m doing what’s best for the team. Just work hard at it, try to be dominant.

“With me, Chris Walker and Ben Martin out there, we have a real mean trio.”

Williams also said he’s excited to work under assistant head coach and defensive line position coach Ed Orgeron.

“He’s going to stay on top of you,” Williams said. “He’s got the resumé to show that he knows how to make a defense that’s great.”

CHANGE OF PLANS: Tennessee moved its Saturday practice and scrimmage at Neyland Stadium to Friday. The Vols will take the field at about 11 a.m.

Friday is Good Friday, a school holiday on Tennessee’s campus.

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