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Freshman Clausen to start vs. Alabama
Associated Press

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 said.

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, 3-1).

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.