Derek Dooley now has options with Justin Worley

Justin Worley signs with Tennessee

Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley (14) hands the ball off to tailback Marlin Lane Jr. (4) during the game against Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley (14) hands the ball off to tailback Marlin Lane Jr. (4) during the game against Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

A significant question at quarterback began to take shape, with a late interception pressing Derek Dooley to respond.

The Tennessee coach wasn't really able to find out if he's got the answer in the long run, but with the game already decided, he at least gave himself another option moving forward.

After another uneven passing performance for Matt Simms against one of the nation's best defenses and one turnover in particular seemingly irritating Dooley in a 37-6 loss at No. 2 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) on Saturday, UT peeled off the redshirt for Justin Worley. That somewhat unexpected decision officially confirmed the availability of the true freshman for the rest of the season, but it didn't do much to clear up what his role might be.

"I don't know yet," Dooley said after the game. "I don't know, I don't know.

"It was unfortunate, we were wanting to put (Worley) in and wanted to throw it a little bit. But we fumbled on the first play and then we're on the minus-six-inch line (for the next drive). Couldn't really have an opportunity."

That left the Vols (3-4, 0-4) without any passing attempts to evaluate or much film of Worley leading the offense to break down, which didn't provide many clues as to whether he's ready for the workload under center.

Dooley didn't give an indication of what he's got in mind after another rough outing for Simms, who was 8-for-17 for 58 yards. Simms' night came to an end when Crimson Tide linebacker Dont'a Hightower picked off a pass across the middle early in the fourth quarter.

But Dooley certainly wasn't second-guessing a

move that erased the possibility of a redshirt season for Worley as the Vols search for help while Tyler Bray recovers from his broken thumb. Worley's appearance opens up the possibilities for the Vols under center as they prepare to host No. 14 South Carolina on Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 7:15 p.m.).

"Can't give up a sack, can't hold the ball," Dooley said. "When you hold the ball, you get sacked. You can't hold it and throw it over the middle late, or it gets picked, and that's what happened. So, we put Worley in.

"I've never worried about redshirts, I just don't care. These guys, they don't worry about staying for four years anymore, so why should we worry about redshirts? They come out in three. When they stop coming out in three, we'll start redshirting them."

The Vols haven't held out many freshmen under Dooley in his two years with the program, though it appeared before Bray went down two weeks ago against Georgia that Worley wouldn't be needed this season.

But Dooley has made clear on numerous occasions that he reserves making a final judgement on redshirts until late in the year based on numerous factors, from development in practice to positional necessity. And with Bray not even halfway though the projected recovery time for his injury, Worley at least seems to fit in the second category.

"Given the situation, the coaches kind of just, you know, told me why," Simms said. "And that's fine, I understand. If something does happen to me, he has to be ready. So it's good for him to get experience out there, especially in the environment we were in.

"They (said they) were going to give him a few reps at the end of the game. And I was fine. I understood it. I made a bad decision the play before. That's just how it goes.

"We just have to keep playing and get ready for the next opponent."

Those preparations might include Worley, as they have over the last couple weeks. But now there's really nothing keeping him from stepping on the field.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              865-342-6274      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward

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Comments » 144

bikervol writes:

Simms seems to be a great kid and a team player-we forget that he's just a kid like all of them and he's taken a beating (some of that is from not making decisions quick enough) I hope Justin can spark this team to improve as we were all hoping early on-hate it for Simms but he just can't seem to lead this team-maybe someone can-not sure if the coach can either-although I hope for brighter days ahead.

CarolinaVol2281 writes:

Was wondering about his red shirt status since Bray is only 1 yr ahead of Worley... Could they red shirt Worley next year to give him 2 full years after Bray??

VolunteerLifer writes:

Might as well play Worley. We won't win games with Simms at QB. (Well, maybe Kentucky) No sense in holding Worley back. He can get some experience this season. Maybe he can find open receivers and accurately throw the ball to them. That would be a nice change. And besides, we have to find out sooner or later, right?

VolMan126 writes:

Maybe he will do like Bray and just go out and play football and not think so much. It could not be any worse. I think Simms is a great kid but not an sec qb. The int he threw was well....just as dumb as all the ones he threw before he got yanked out last year. Let Worley play...win or lose! GIVE M HE!! YOUNG MAN ....GO VOLS!

volman2008 writes:

that the only thing we had to look foward to,now thats gone.

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

Kiffin's choice of Simms over Tajh Boyd and Cam Newton now looks more stupid than the Vikings giving up 5 players and 8 or 9 draft picks for Herschel Walker from Dallas. Boyd wanted to be at UT but Kiffin said he "wouldn't be a fit" for UT.

pingkr62 writes:

I don't know who remembers, but it was about this time last year that CDD put Tyler Bray in as Q/B. Hopefully we can get some-what similar results with Worley. At least Matt Simms is still healthy. All is not yet lost. Good luck J.W. G.B.O.!!!

FWBVol writes:

in response to CarolinaVol2281:

Was wondering about his red shirt status since Bray is only 1 yr ahead of Worley... Could they red shirt Worley next year to give him 2 full years after Bray??

A player can be redshirted any time during the first four years of their career.

GreerVol22 writes:

Dooley should look to Clemson for some pointers. Very similar team but the freshmen and sophmores are much better prepared it seems. Likewise, we have to recruit some depth instead of another dozen or so corners and safeties. Nothing will change until we are 2 deep on defense and the freshmen are ready to play.

atributetoLombardiwasbanned writes:

Hate it for Simms.
He's a fine young man and tough as nails.
It just plain takes him to long to decide what to do.

BamaVol writes:

You will be looking at the future in Worley, Bray want like being a back up.

lomas98 writes:

in response to VOLS_SEC_RULES:

Kiffin's choice of Simms over Tajh Boyd and Cam Newton now looks more stupid than the Vikings giving up 5 players and 8 or 9 draft picks for Herschel Walker from Dallas. Boyd wanted to be at UT but Kiffin said he "wouldn't be a fit" for UT.

Simms didn't get on campus until after the recruiting class that Boyd would have been in. Not like he chose Simms over him. While he did say no thanks to Boyd, he was actively recruiting newton. Newton decided to go to auburn, it happens.

seaplane#216536 writes:

Anybody notice when they introduced the players tonight for the Colts-Saints game, Jabari Greer didn't want to recognize he went to Tennessee. We don't like you either and please don't ever come back.

FWBVol writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

Dooley should look to Clemson for some pointers. Very similar team but the freshmen and sophmores are much better prepared it seems. Likewise, we have to recruit some depth instead of another dozen or so corners and safeties. Nothing will change until we are 2 deep on defense and the freshmen are ready to play.

The problem is Dooley was left with a cupboard that was almost completely bare at every position. We had one offensive lineman that had minimal experience, Dallas Thomas.

Kiffin chased off three or four O-linemen that may or may not have been stars, but they could have provided depth and some experience.

Yes, Clemson plays a lot of freshmen, but they also have a nice compliment of juniors and seniors. Even Tajh Boyd is a redshirt sophomore so this is his third year in the Clemson program.

vol_4_fan writes:

I would think that you go with JW, if you are going to lose, lose with youth that can help the team later. Go Vols!

RoadTrip writes:

Boyd would have redshirted, he was recovering from knee surgery during his recruitment. Kiffin made precious few good decisions about recruits.

The coaches didn't think Bray could play well against USCe either. He did well. We know Simms will not do good. So they need to give Worley a shot. He can then gain even more experience for the final three SEC games after the MTSU practice game.

bkwats2003#237114 writes:

in response to seaplane#216536:

Anybody notice when they introduced the players tonight for the Colts-Saints game, Jabari Greer didn't want to recognize he went to Tennessee. We don't like you either and please don't ever come back.

I wasn't paying attention. Did he just say his name and not his alma mater?

bkwats2003#237114 writes:

Why don't we play Nash Nance? At least he has experience throwing to Da'Rick. LOL

dwa7#337691 writes:

early predict:

UT 28
S C Cockers 22 in an upset!

423tiger18 writes:

Simms would not play for any other D1 school, no doubt. Get Worley some practice in this rebuilding year and lets move on...

Couchdummy writes:

in response to seaplane#216536:

Anybody notice when they introduced the players tonight for the Colts-Saints game, Jabari Greer didn't want to recognize he went to Tennessee. We don't like you either and please don't ever come back.

Yes, I did notice and have written him off as a Vol favorite.

NickDanger-ThirdEye writes:

I think the reading of CDD's comment on redshirting is that he may expect Bray to declare after next year. if that is the case, we need to get JW ready right now and anticipate a battle for the #1 job in the spring.

John_10065 writes:

in response to CarolinaVol2281:

Was wondering about his red shirt status since Bray is only 1 yr ahead of Worley... Could they red shirt Worley next year to give him 2 full years after Bray??

Nope!

MikeInTN writes:

Does Dooley seem clueless, or is it just me?

John_10065 writes:

in response to atributetoLombardiwasbanned:

Hate it for Simms.
He's a fine young man and tough as nails.
It just plain takes him to long to decide what to do.

Don't count him out. He might not be a QB at any level in the future but I expect him to be involved in football for a long time to come. He already works in the off season in development programs.

I expect he will be a very valuable coach at some level in his future.

Upgrayedd writes:

in response to seaplane#216536:

Anybody notice when they introduced the players tonight for the Colts-Saints game, Jabari Greer didn't want to recognize he went to Tennessee. We don't like you either and please don't ever come back.

There's plenty of times where the NFL guys say their college the majority of the time, but occasionally want to give a shout-out to their other schools. This is not a big deal. The only former Vol exception is Anthony Herrera. Guy is a douche.

bkwats2003#237114 writes:

in response to John_10065:

Nope!

You can redshirt in any of your first 4 years. Don't reply if you don't know what you are talking about.

Smokey91 writes:

Here's the way I see our situation. We have an experienced QB who can't play any better and hopefully can't play any worse (not sure about that). Even when he won a game against weaker teams, he did not play all that well. Then we have a freshman with no college ball experience. Yeah he may struggle for while due to his greenness and youth, but he will get better and better. Simms peaked in junior college. At his worse, Woirley is still a better option than Simms. Unless Dooley wants to concede the rest of the seaon, and doesn't mind maybe losing his job when it is over, he will go with the freshman. I can stomach losing with Worley but I can't stomach the thought of starting Simms ever again. The team may respect him but they have no confidence in him. May be the first time, at least in my rememberance, that an upper classman was replaced twice as the starting QB, both times by freshman QBs. Give Worley a shot and see if the team can rally around him like they did with Bray last year. The only good game Simms has had as a Vol was last springs O&W game. I hate to say it but he just isn't an SEC level QB.

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

"I've never worried about redshirts, I just don't care. These guys, they don't worry about staying for four years anymore, so why should we worry about redshirts? They come out in three. When they stop coming out in three, we'll start redshirting them."

Coach, Coach!! Dwayne Camacho of the Obvious Question Times Free Press, thank you for taking my question.

If you don't think that redshirting a player matters anymore, then why did you redshirt your freshman QB at the beginning of the year?

Follow-up question: Is it just me or do you seem to be learning on the job as you go?

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to BamaVol:

You will be looking at the future in Worley, Bray want like being a back up.

Really

Go play in the street

GiveHimSixMoreYears writes:

Forget about S.C. and Ar.. Just wondering - what's the excuse going to be when Doolittle loses to Vandy, with a 1st year coach and half the talent.

Better be creative. It's coming.

PureOrange writes:

in response to MikeInTN:

Does Dooley seem clueless, or is it just me?

It's just you!

tennrich1 writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

Dooley should look to Clemson for some pointers. Very similar team but the freshmen and sophmores are much better prepared it seems. Likewise, we have to recruit some depth instead of another dozen or so corners and safeties. Nothing will change until we are 2 deep on defense and the freshmen are ready to play.

I would need to glance at the schedule of Clemson first....one things for sure...they havent played number one and two back to back....Just guessing but bet that MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE...

tennrich1 writes:

in response to Smokey91:

Here's the way I see our situation. We have an experienced QB who can't play any better and hopefully can't play any worse (not sure about that). Even when he won a game against weaker teams, he did not play all that well. Then we have a freshman with no college ball experience. Yeah he may struggle for while due to his greenness and youth, but he will get better and better. Simms peaked in junior college. At his worse, Woirley is still a better option than Simms. Unless Dooley wants to concede the rest of the seaon, and doesn't mind maybe losing his job when it is over, he will go with the freshman. I can stomach losing with Worley but I can't stomach the thought of starting Simms ever again. The team may respect him but they have no confidence in him. May be the first time, at least in my rememberance, that an upper classman was replaced twice as the starting QB, both times by freshman QBs. Give Worley a shot and see if the team can rally around him like they did with Bray last year. The only good game Simms has had as a Vol was last springs O&W game. I hate to say it but he just isn't an SEC level QB.

While I agree with most of your post I will have to give Simms credit for his play in the LSU game last year...managed the game well....

VOLliven2it writes:

Well the expert accessment of our coaches especially just keeps on rolling. Personally I find it tough that we may be looking at throwing our now new freshman and I mean really fresh qb to the wolves against SC. Their d might call him freshmeat. But that seems to be the direction born of desperation as much as anything else. The genius above who posted Dooley would likely lose his job if we don't win more games or whatever is out of bounds. It would be more insanity to fire him after what has occurred in only two years than keeping Mike Hamilton....well...almost as insane. Come on people, we knew this was coming. Hang tough and BE TRUE VOLUNTEER fans. Better days will be coming.

FWBVol writes:

in response to Smokey91:

Here's the way I see our situation. We have an experienced QB who can't play any better and hopefully can't play any worse (not sure about that). Even when he won a game against weaker teams, he did not play all that well. Then we have a freshman with no college ball experience. Yeah he may struggle for while due to his greenness and youth, but he will get better and better. Simms peaked in junior college. At his worse, Woirley is still a better option than Simms. Unless Dooley wants to concede the rest of the seaon, and doesn't mind maybe losing his job when it is over, he will go with the freshman. I can stomach losing with Worley but I can't stomach the thought of starting Simms ever again. The team may respect him but they have no confidence in him. May be the first time, at least in my rememberance, that an upper classman was replaced twice as the starting QB, both times by freshman QBs. Give Worley a shot and see if the team can rally around him like they did with Bray last year. The only good game Simms has had as a Vol was last springs O&W game. I hate to say it but he just isn't an SEC level QB.

I agree with almost everything you wrote but Dooley will lose his job if he stays with Simms at QB. I don't think Matt Simms is a SEC or maybe not even a MAC quality quarterback, but in fairness to him he's not playing with a loaded gun.

Last year Gerald Jones was out much with the broken hand/thumb much of the time Simms was the starter. This year Simms has been without Hunter in the two games he's started.

I'm not saying Jones in the lineup last year or Hunter playing with Simms this year would change any of the things Simms is doing wrong. I don't care who he has playing he'd still be locking in on receivers, being painfully slow in getting the ball off or being indecicive with his reads.

I think Worley should be given the chance to start because at this point in the year he can't hurt us any worse than Simms has the last two games.

Simms or Worley aside, this is just Dooley's second year and he has a five-year contract. He took a job that nobody seemed to want after Kiffin bolted and he's been on the job less than two years and is coaching less than two full recruiting classes that are totally his recruits.

Dooley should, and I believe will be given the full extent of his contract to turn things around. He's doing things the right way and that takes time. If UT fires him at the end of this year or even next year, we will be back to square one and nobody, but the most unrealistic fans want that.

GiveHimSixMoreYears writes:

Our Vols open a touchdown underdog to S.C in Neyland. The worst odds we've ever given up in the series. Thank you Doofus Dooleave.

Take the Gamecocks, give the points and go to the bank smiling. It won't be that close. The loser Doolittle hasn't covered in the SEC all year.

braintree writes:

in response to MikeInTN:

Does Dooley seem clueless, or is it just me?

Probably just you. Dooley seems as frustrated as most of us are. You have a very young team with very few skill players left on the field. The only real game changer you've got left is Da'Rick Rogers and you have no way to get him the ball.

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to dwa7#337691:

early predict:

UT 28
S C Cockers 22 in an upset!

As horrid as we have played, a win vs. USC is very possible. I have been critical of the 2nd half efforts of the last 3 SEC games and they have been ugly. But, this is really THE game left on our schedule that could set the season back on track.

Everyone knows it too. We were that game for Georgia and they responded. But, it is going to take something new like Worley at least playing pretty good. Simms just wasn't born with a horseshoe up his tail.

BustaRhymes writes:

"I don't know yet," Dooley said after the game. "I don't know, I don't know."

So you take the redshirt off your #1 QB prospect without any real plan...? Wow.

Really hope the Vols can turn it around in the second half like they did last season, but I'm afraid losses to USC and Arkansas are guaranteed with losses to Vandy and Kentucky possible. We're going to give Dooley at least one more year - even if we end up 4-8. The real question is what is Dooley (and the team) going to do next year...? At some point, we have to see a sign of life...

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

in response to lomas98:

Simms didn't get on campus until after the recruiting class that Boyd would have been in. Not like he chose Simms over him. While he did say no thanks to Boyd, he was actively recruiting newton. Newton decided to go to auburn, it happens.

1) Doesn't matter if Simms wasn't chosen over Boyd, Boyd was a UT commitment and Kiffin went to him and told him to find greener pastures (you gotta believe that Taj Boyd is Kiffin's biggest fan right now). Kiffin stupidly passed up on Boyd's talent because he wanted to run a pro-style offense and he couldn't figure a way to fit Boyd into it. Uncreative and stupid.

2) As much as Kiffin "recruited" Cam Newton...UT never offered him a scholarship. Kind of like dating a girl and never kissing her...eventually she is gonna go somewhere else. Kiffin has gone on record admitting that it was stupid to pass him up.

Kiffin is a tool that promises the stars while stabbing you in the back. Admittedly, he does have some talents when it comes to developing a QB. Unfortunately, Kiffin is only out to help one person: Kiffin. You can't trust him.

BillsBrother writes:

in response to DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho:

"I've never worried about redshirts, I just don't care. These guys, they don't worry about staying for four years anymore, so why should we worry about redshirts? They come out in three. When they stop coming out in three, we'll start redshirting them."

Coach, Coach!! Dwayne Camacho of the Obvious Question Times Free Press, thank you for taking my question.

If you don't think that redshirting a player matters anymore, then why did you redshirt your freshman QB at the beginning of the year?

Follow-up question: Is it just me or do you seem to be learning on the job as you go?

It appears to be just you...and maybe MikeinTN.

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho:

"I've never worried about redshirts, I just don't care. These guys, they don't worry about staying for four years anymore, so why should we worry about redshirts? They come out in three. When they stop coming out in three, we'll start redshirting them."

Coach, Coach!! Dwayne Camacho of the Obvious Question Times Free Press, thank you for taking my question.

If you don't think that redshirting a player matters anymore, then why did you redshirt your freshman QB at the beginning of the year?

Follow-up question: Is it just me or do you seem to be learning on the job as you go?

I am sure he prefers redshirting, but he really has no choice. Simms is virtually guaranteed to lose against USC and Ark and possibly Vandy if Bray is not back. We have the hardest part of the schedule behind us and at worst, MUST get bowl eligible.

In the grand scheme of the rebuild process, we need to show SOME type of progress. Even 6-6 and winning a bowl would be progress. Missing a bowl game may just create too much negativity that could affect long term player and fan morale. And, it could cost us a couple of key recruits if we keep getting smacked around.

Dooley understands that if there is even a chance Worley could play better than Simms, we have to try him. If we miss a bowl this year, then Dooley will be forced to contend for the SEC next year or potentially lose his job. That is a lot of pressure. So, if Dooley is not here in 2013, then Worley's eligibility becomes irrelevant for his rebuild. I would do the same thing.

But, I do believe Dooley is learning on the job.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to Upgrayedd:

There's plenty of times where the NFL guys say their college the majority of the time, but occasionally want to give a shout-out to their other schools. This is not a big deal. The only former Vol exception is Anthony Herrera. Guy is a douche.

I thought that as well...until last week when the Vikings played the Bears. Herrera said he was from The REAL UT. My buddy and I laughed. Not only did he rep UT, he slammed Texas for claiming "The Real UT" while he was at it.

OrangePsyched writes:

in response to GiveHimSixMoreYears:

Our Vols open a touchdown underdog to S.C in Neyland. The worst odds we've ever given up in the series. Thank you Doofus Dooleave.

Take the Gamecocks, give the points and go to the bank smiling. It won't be that close. The loser Doolittle hasn't covered in the SEC all year.

Dude..you need a change of diet..gotta leave those retard sandwiches alone. Yes this is a personal attack like you do to CDD all the time. Don't like it? DO SOMETHING! I agree with those who say start Worley. Maybe we can find some magic for the second year in a row. Gamehens and Brokebacks both look beatable. I am a fan and that won't change. Be positive..you'll live longer.

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

in response to tennrich1:

I would need to glance at the schedule of Clemson first....one things for sure...they havent played number one and two back to back....Just guessing but bet that MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE...

Did we play LSU and Bama back to back twice every month since the season began?

Seems like I remember us playing other SEC teams that were not ranked number 1/2 and sucking pretty badly.

GiveHimSixMoreYears writes:

in response to OrangePsyched:

Dude..you need a change of diet..gotta leave those retard sandwiches alone. Yes this is a personal attack like you do to CDD all the time. Don't like it? DO SOMETHING! I agree with those who say start Worley. Maybe we can find some magic for the second year in a row. Gamehens and Brokebacks both look beatable. I am a fan and that won't change. Be positive..you'll live longer.

Funny how that Doolittle magic seems to emerge around the Vandy and Kentucky dates. That genie doesn't come out of the bottle this year. Anyone who's watched Doolittle and Franklin knows the youth and inexperience excuse has run its course. Vandy exposes Doolittle as a fraud once and for all.

Maybe then we can start to look for a real coach.

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

in response to SpongeBobOrangePantz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As always...a well researched, reasoned, and articulated response.

I guess it's like that old saying:

If you can't beat 'em, say that they're full of **** and then call 'em names.

Anyway, be careful not to get caught posting naughty words during computer time at your elementary school. You might get sent to the principals office.

OrangeSemperFi writes:

Does anyone have any inside information on when Bray will be back this season? I just keep hearing the general 4-6 weeks.

Voluvr writes:

in response to VOLS_SEC_RULES:

Kiffin's choice of Simms over Tajh Boyd and Cam Newton now looks more stupid than the Vikings giving up 5 players and 8 or 9 draft picks for Herschel Walker from Dallas. Boyd wanted to be at UT but Kiffin said he "wouldn't be a fit" for UT.

Kiffin wanted a Pro Style QB and got one. He was honest with Boyd. Newton cooled probably when dad was asking for money.

Hind sight...well you know.

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