Friday, December 13, 2002
Freshman Clausen to start vs. Alabama
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Freshman Casey Clausen will be
Tennessee's starting quarterback against Alabama this weekend,
coach Phillip Fulmer announced after practice Monday.
It is the third quarterback change this season for the
struggling Volunteers (2-3, 0-3 Southeastern Conference).
"We feel like Casey gives us our best chance throwing the
football and doing the things we need a quarterback to do," Fulmer
Redshirt freshman A.J. Suggs started the last four games after
sophomore Joey Mathews started the season opener.
In the last three games, Suggs shared time with Clausen, who is
scheduled to play the entire game against the Crimson Tide (3-3,
Fulmer said earlier this season that he was waiting for one
quarterback to emerge as the starter.
"We need someone to take charge. Nobody has really just taken
command of the job. Hopefully, it will be Casey," Fulmer said.
Clausen played for the first time in Tennessee's 70-3 rout of
Louisiana-Monroe. He threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to David Martin
on his first snap.
Clausen played one series in the 38-31 overtime loss at LSU, but
Tennessee had to punt after three downs. He played the entire
second quarter in the 21-10 loss at Georgia, going 5-of-11 for 40
yards with one interception.
Tennessee did not play last week, and Fulmer said Clausen was
able to catch up during the off week.
"The open date came at a very good time for him to get
additional work in managing the formations and blitz packages that
we see," Fulmer said.
Clausen, who enrolled at Tennessee in January out of Alemany
High School in Northridge, Calif., was sidelined during fall
practice and the beginning of the season with tendinitis in his
right throwing shoulder. He has recovered fully.
Clausen didn't say whether he was surprised at the change, only
that he was happy to get the opportunity.
"The main thing is we've got to start winning football games
again," Clausen said.
Suggs said he was surprised but that he would prepare for
Saturday as he would any game whether he was starting or not.
"It's not a demotion for me. They think it's time to shake
things up and see what happens," Suggs said.