Memphis tailback Doroland Dorceus (28) steps into the end zone to score against Houston in the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)
Associated Press

Houston drops wild one in what could be Tom Herman’s last game with Cougars

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You still want him, LSU? How about, you, Texas?

Over the past couple of months if not longer, Tom Herman has been ticketed for the latter. Over the last 24 hours, it’s been the former zeroing in on the Houston head coach.

“I’m not going to talk about any other job except the one I go right now and these kids,” Herman said of the rumors in an interview prior to the Memphis game this afternoon. “There’s nothing to handle except beating Memphis.”

And therein lay the problem this Black Friday.

Playing very much like a team distracted by the whirlwind of speculation, the Cougars were down 34-17 to the Tigers at halftime and seemingly headed nowhere.  A 20-point run from the start of the third quarter through the halfway point of the fourth, however, gave UH its first lead of the game at 37-34.  The teams then traded touchdowns on their next possessions, leaving the Cougars up 44-41 with under a minute and a half remaining.

That proved to be too much time as quarterback Riley Ferguson directed a six-play, 82-yard drive that culminated with a 10-yard touchdown pass with just :19 left in the game.  Ferguson’s counterpart, Greg Ward Jr. (47-66-489-4-1), could do nothing with the few remaining the ticks on the clocks, sealing the Tigers’ wild 48-44 win.

The Cougars’ loss comes eight days after UH’s dismantling of then-No. 5 Louisville, a win that once again propelled Herman’s name to the top of coaching food chain.

After beginning the season 5-0 and climbing to as high as No. 6 in the rankings, the Cougars have now lost three of their last seven games to close out Herman’s second regular season with the football program.

One of those losses came to an SMU team that’s below .500, and came by a whopping 18 points for good measure. That, plus this loss, continued an unsettling trend for Herman’s Cougars.

Following that loss to the Mustangs, it was reported that Texas had cooled on Herman as a potential replacement for Charlie Strong should the third-year coach be dismissed. Whether this loss will have a similar chilling effect in the eyes of Texas or LSU remains to be seen.

 

Butch Jones expects to lose a QB at Tennessee

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The quarterback competition at Tennessee appears to be losing one contender for the job. Redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson, expected to be contending for the starting job under center this fall, is expected to be leaving the program according to Tennessee head coach Butch Jones.

“As of right now, based on our recent conversations, we do not anticipate that he will be a member of our football family moving forward,” Jones said according to The Knoxville News Sentinel Tuesday at the SEC meetings in Destin, Florida.

The reason for Ferguson’s departure is unknown, although Jones suggested the decision was made between summer academic sessions.

Losing Ferguson would leave Tennessee with three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster heading into 2014. Senior Justin Worley and sophomores Joshua Dobbs and Nathan Peterman would remain. Of the three, Worley would be the most experienced passer for the Vols after playing in eight games last season and leading Tennessee with 1,239 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dobbs would be the other likely challenger for the starting job after finishing second on the team in passing yards in 2013.

Helmet sticker to Saturday Down South.

Peterman out a month, Worley back in as Vols’ starting QB

Nathan Peterman
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Apparently, the Great Nathan Peterman Experiment has been put on hold indefinitely.

Just prior to the game against Florida Saturday, Tennessee announced that the redshirt freshman would make his first collegiate start in The Swamp.  Peterman completed just 4-of-11 passes for five yards and two interceptions — one of which was returned for a touchdown — before being replaced by the previous starter, Justin Worley.

Head coach Butch Jones announced Monday that will be Peterman’s last playing time for a while as the quarterback suffered a hand injury in the loss to the Gators.  Jones said Peterman will miss at least a month.

As a result, Worley has vaulted back to the top of the depth chart.  After replacing Peterman, Worley completed 10-of-23 passes for 149 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  Worley’s 128.2 pass efficiency rating is 72nd in the country and behind 10 SEC quarterbacks, helping in part to explain the Vols’ uneven 2-2 start to the season.

With Peterman out, a pair of freshmen — Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson — are listed as the co-backups on the depth chart released today.

Jones did allow that the quarterback competition would be opened back up to include everyone, although it would be more than surprising if anyone but Worley was under center when the Vols take on South Alabama Saturday.

Butch Jones opens up Tennessee QB competition

Tennessee v Oregon
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A couple days after absorbing a 59-14 shellacking at the hands of Oregon, Tennessee coach Butch Jones has decided to open up the Vols’ starting quarterback competition.

Junior Justin Worley started the first three games and is atop the depth chart for Saturday’s game at No. 19 Florida, but Jones told the media on Monday that the quarterback who performs best in practice this week would earn the start.

Worley has completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 372 yards and five touchdowns (with one pick) so far this season. However, he was lackluster against the Ducks, hitting on 15 of 29 for 138 yards and a TD.

But who would replace Worley? Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman has thrown 12 passes this season, completing six of them for 40 yards. True freshmen Riley Ferguson and Joshua Dobbs haven’t played at all.

It seems like Jones is looking for some sort of dynamic running threat at the position.

“Just like any position in our program, it’s open,” Jones said. “Whatever quarterback has the best week of practice will be the starter for Tennessee when we play Florida. If that means a freshman quarterback, that means a freshman quarterback. We’ll add more quarterback run into our package this week. We just need to find ways to generate big explosive plays. If that’s Josh Dobbs running the read option or Riley Ferguson, that’s what we’ll do.”

Both Ferguson and Dobbs were recruited by Jones, while he inherited Worley and Peterman from Tennessee’s previous staff. Since Jones prefers to run a spread option style offense, he probably feels more comfortable with the guys he recruited at quarterback.

If Tennessee is going to struggle this year anyway on offense, he might as well let his guys take some lumps now so they’ll be ready to perform at a higher level next season.

Vols make it official, name Worley as starting QB

Justin Worley
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To the surprise of absolutely no one, Tennessee has confirmed a report from Sunday regarding its new starting quarterback.

On the depth chart released Monday morning ahead of the season opener, UT confirmed that, yes, Justin Worley will be under center for the first game of the new year.  Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman was listed as Worley’s backup on the two-deep depth chart.  True freshmen Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs had also been part of the competition for the starting job.

UT opens the upcoming season at home against Austin Peay Saturday afternoon.

In the last two seasons as a backup to Tyler Bray, Worley attempted 110 passes, completing 63.  He did throw five interceptions during his brief and sporadic playing time.

Worley was a three-star member of the Vols’ 2011 recruiting class.    Peterman was a four-star recruit coming into UT, while both Ferguson and Dobbs were three-starRivals players.