Butch Jones expects to lose a QB at Tennessee


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

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

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.

Report: Vols to name Justin Worley starting QB

Justin Worley

Last week, Butch Jones confirmed that he would announce Monday just who would start at quarterback for Tennessee in the season opener.  If one report is correct, the decision has already been made by Jones and his offensive coaching staff.

According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, the Vols have, as expected, chosen Justin Worley as the Vols’ starter for the opener against Austin Peay.  While Worley had been involved in what was technically a four-player competition with redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman and true freshmen Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs, it was believed that Worley’s experience at the collegiate level had given him a decided edge.

In the last two seasons as a backup to Tyler Bray, Worley attempted 110 passes, completing 63.  He did throw five interceptions during that time, but has improved on that aspect of the game throughout spring practice and into summer camp.

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-star Rivals players.