Lucas Richman, musical director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, may be the finest conductor in Tennessee, but he's not the most well-known. That distinction belongs to Vols senior quarterback Casey Clausen, who led the school band in a rendition of Rocky Top after a 24-10 win at Florida last Saturday.
The Gators had vowed not to let Clausen repeat his performance of 2001, when he celebrated Tennessee's win at the Swamp by leading the band. But Florida couldn't stop Clausen from orchestrating another victory, this time by throwing for 235 yards and a touchdown. One of the scores was a 48-yard Hail Mary to James Banks just before halftime that gave Tennessee a 7-3 lead and swung the momentum.
The victory will no doubt do wonders for Clausen's popularity among Tennessee fans, many of whom have been critical of him, particularly last year, when the Vols' disappointing 8-5 season ended with a 30-3 loss to Maryland in the Peach Bowl. Even after victories-Clausen is now 11-1 as a starter on opponents' home fields—his performances have sometimes been harshly critiqued by sports-radio callers. Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer says that the public wasn't aware of the extent to which Clausen was hampered by shoulder and ankle injuries last year, but the only defense Clausen needs is more performances like Saturday's.
THEIR TIME IS NEAR
More teams are getting snaps for their young backup quarterbacks this season. In fact, some of these understudies appear to be ready to start.
? Chris Leak, Florida A true freshman and the Gators' QB of the future, Leak will unseat Ingle Martin by season's end.
? Brady Quinn, Notre Dame While senior starter Carlyle Holiday struggles, Quinn, another true freshman, continues to impress with his passing.
? Aaron Rodgers, Cal The strong-armed sophomore led the Bears to a 31-24 win over Illinois, throwing for 263 yards in his first start.
? Vince Young, Texas A terrific runner and passer, Young, a redshirt freshman, will continue to push struggling junior Chance Mock.