John Adams: Backup quarterbacks usually get time in the foreground

Justin Worley is easily forgotten in this Tennessee offense. There's so much else ahead of him in the conversation hierarchy.

Starting quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receivers Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers are All-SEC candidates. Mychal Rivera is a proven receiver at tight end. The offensive line is full of veteran players with something to prove. The running backs have performed well enough in preseason camp to qualify as promising, if not productive.

All that doesn't leave much time to discuss the merits of a backup quarterback. But past seasons remind you that he's worth mentioning.

Only three times in the past eight Tennessee seasons has the same player gone from the opener to the finale as the starting quarterback. Sometimes, the change was performance-based. Other times, like last year, injury forced a change.

So, it's no wonder that the situational phase of Friday's scrimmage included the hypothetical loss of a starting quarterback in the heat of battle.

Three times in eight years, UT has lost a starting quarterback to injury. Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer went down in the same season as freshmen (2004). Bray missed half of last season with an injured throwing hand.

Enter Justin Worley.

Two of Worley's starts came against top-10 teams Arkansas and South Carolina. He completed 25 of 55 passes, failed to throw a touchdown pass and was intercepted three times.

But if you choose to hang those stats around the freshman's neck, then also credit him for completing 23 of 32 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown with zero interceptions against Middle Tennessee State. And take note of what he did in Friday's scrimmage.

He completed 15 of 28 passes for 229 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions — hardly sensational numbers, but superior to what Bray managed (5 of 12 for 80 yards) in the same scrimmage.

UT coaches have been talking about Worley's improvement since midway

through spring practice, and coach Derek Dooley has tacked on more praise after both preseason scrimmages. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's confidence in Worley is growing, too.

"I think Justin is figuring out what type of quarterback he is," Chaney said. "He is a rhythm-throwing football player that we really enjoy when he stays in rhythm. We are trying to force him to work on some weaknesses and he is aware of those and constantly working on them.

"I like a kid when you tell him his weaknesses that he goes to work on them, and that is what Worley is doing right now and he's doing it at a really good rate. ... I think he is going to be a really good football player."

Chaney knows as well as anyone how quickly Worley's development could matter.

Quarterback attrition isn't just a UT problem. It's one of the hazards of conducting business against SEC defenses.

Quarterbacks get beat up in this league — sometimes, physically; other times, mentally. In either case, a replacement is usually required.

Georgia is the only team in the SEC East that went through the season with one starter. UT, Florida and Kentucky all started three different players at the position. In the West, just two of the six teams got by with one starting quarterback.

An injury here, a demotion there: that's all it takes for a backup quarterback to become the hottest topic on any team in the SEC.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 23

thevoice writes:

Nick Stephens trying to earn a roster spot with the Titans tonight.

atnvol#283282 writes:

Guess what John Adams....Dooley is one step ahead of you....great situational scrimmage for Worley tonight!

arkyvol writes:

adams: "But if you choose to hang those stats (woeful performances against arkansas and south carolina) around the freshman's neck, then also credit him for completing 23 of 32 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown with zero interceptions against Middle Tennessee State."

just what i'd always dreamed of--a future vol q.b. who can hang with mtsu.

Pompey writes:

in response to arkyvol:

adams: "But if you choose to hang those stats (woeful performances against arkansas and south carolina) around the freshman's neck, then also credit him for completing 23 of 32 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown with zero interceptions against Middle Tennessee State."

just what i'd always dreamed of--a future vol q.b. who can hang with mtsu.

.....so you are willing to hang those stats around his neck as a freshman....hum?

SevenT writes:

UT changes QBs almost as often as they change Head Coaches. The best course of action is to bench Mr. Jetski and put Worley in

BigOrangeFever76 (Inactive) writes:

in response to SevenT:

UT changes QBs almost as often as they change Head Coaches. The best course of action is to bench Mr. Jetski and put Worley in

SevenTool,

Were you born a moron or did you just develop into one over the years? The best course of action would be for you to finish your GED and work on that promotion at the Waffle House.

SouthPaVol writes:

Worley is good enough to win with right now. He is not as good as Bray, but if Bray got put out of a game (which could happen on any given play), I wouldn't loose any sleep over putting Worley in. He and CP were quite a combo in HS, with strong chemistry and a ton of completions. He's got a year throwing to our other two all-stars, so we would be ok.

My left-handed comment: Today, Bray is the better QB of the two; ten years from now, I's say Worley gets the edge.

arkyvol writes:

in response to Pompey:

.....so you are willing to hang those stats around his neck as a freshman....hum?

as the legendary texas coach, darryl royal, observed: "if a dog's gonna bite, he'll do it as a pup."

voloffaith writes:

in response to arkyvol:

as the legendary texas coach, darryl royal, observed: "if a dog's gonna bite, he'll do it as a pup."

Troll...Troll..Troll gently on the screen...merrily...merrily...losing arkyvol is but a dream....

Darryl Royal quoted by arch rival arky fan...mental dissarray if you are comfortable with that....

On topic, Worley is fine and many forget he put a pass right on the moneyin the S.C game to mister Rogers for six that went right through his hands...so he had a big throw that receiver dropped.....woof woof growl...get'em Smokey!!

ps we've come to understand that in most cases in a poster name when another state is listed b4 VOL that their allegiance is not to Tennessee...oh btw their postings usually confirm that as well....

pingkr62 writes:

I hope the coaches see fit to give this young man as much playing time as possible. He is the future. G.B.O.!!!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Worley sure has the pedigree..He shattered all his state HS records.Iam sure at some point he will be our starter..This incoming QB Ferguson will give them all a run for the money..He has great mechanics and throws on the run better than Worley..Ferguson doesn't throw with great velocity but is very good at throwing high over DB's or putting the ball where only his WR can catch it..He's throwing to big WR's just like the one on our roster

tennrich1 writes:

in response to arkyvol:

adams: "But if you choose to hang those stats (woeful performances against arkansas and south carolina) around the freshman's neck, then also credit him for completing 23 of 32 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown with zero interceptions against Middle Tennessee State."

just what i'd always dreamed of--a future vol q.b. who can hang with mtsu.

I do think its worth mentioning he had I believe two touchdown(or at the very least long pass completions)simply dropped in the S.C. and Ark. game....I have full confidence in Worley if he has to play...

tennrich1 writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Worley sure has the pedigree..He shattered all his state HS records.Iam sure at some point he will be our starter..This incoming QB Ferguson will give them all a run for the money..He has great mechanics and throws on the run better than Worley..Ferguson doesn't throw with great velocity but is very good at throwing high over DB's or putting the ball where only his WR can catch it..He's throwing to big WR's just like the one on our roster

I think we would have to put Peterman in that mix as well....

johnlg00 writes:

in response to SouthPaVol:

Worley is good enough to win with right now. He is not as good as Bray, but if Bray got put out of a game (which could happen on any given play), I wouldn't loose any sleep over putting Worley in. He and CP were quite a combo in HS, with strong chemistry and a ton of completions. He's got a year throwing to our other two all-stars, so we would be ok.

My left-handed comment: Today, Bray is the better QB of the two; ten years from now, I's say Worley gets the edge.

Thanks, bud, I had forgotten that Worley and Patterson were HS teammates. Each helped the other become one of the top players in the country at his position. Maybe they'll get a chance to strike some sparks again this season.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to atnvol#283282:

Guess what John Adams....Dooley is one step ahead of you....great situational scrimmage for Worley tonight!

So true, CDD needed to make sure Worley was ready to avoid the same problems they had a year ago after TB got injured..That was a great concept and I remember our coach at Memphis St. implementing the same thing to see if the other QB's were ready and knew the playbook inside and out. I remember the game was a scrimmage against Ark. State and Tom Smith was the freshman backup QB. His eyes looked like saucers when he was called to guide the number one offense..At least Worley was well prepared (especially after last years Arky game) to lead our offense and they didn't miss a beat..GBO!!

arkyvol writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Troll...Troll..Troll gently on the screen...merrily...merrily...losing arkyvol is but a dream....

Darryl Royal quoted by arch rival arky fan...mental dissarray if you are comfortable with that....

On topic, Worley is fine and many forget he put a pass right on the moneyin the S.C game to mister Rogers for six that went right through his hands...so he had a big throw that receiver dropped.....woof woof growl...get'em Smokey!!

ps we've come to understand that in most cases in a poster name when another state is listed b4 VOL that their allegiance is not to Tennessee...oh btw their postings usually confirm that as well....

i have two degrees from u.t., i was born and raised in east tennessee, and i didn't move west until i was thirty one. oh, and by the way, i've never set foot in a u of a classroom (in other words, i've logged as much time there as you have at u.t.) any other fantasies?

givehim6 writes:

in response to tennrich1:

I think we would have to put Peterman in that mix as well....

If I remember wrigh UT played all three QB's on there roster last year, (Simms, Bray, and Worley) better make sure Peterman gets some practice snaps.

voloffaith writes:

in response to arkyvol:

i have two degrees from u.t., i was born and raised in east tennessee, and i didn't move west until i was thirty one. oh, and by the way, i've never set foot in a u of a classroom (in other words, i've logged as much time there as you have at u.t.) any other fantasies?

I sir am not as humble as ewe are and beg you to forgive my indiscretion which was obviously off base...again the posting usually give away trolls which you say ain't you...however you are way off with this fantasy thing...I don't fantasize college sports..whew what a scary thought.....read my typing which says ,"in most cases" not every or all...if it looks like a troll...smells like a troll...it usually is...sorry like the weatherman we ain't always right.....

orangecountyvols writes:

Vol4gzus and other Vols,

Let me slide in here just for a sec.......re the arky Vol and numerous degrees........one comment. Hats off to the hundreds of degrees. Now, having said that......does that lend itself to making a Rhodes Scholar a loyal Tennessee fan? Hardly.

Example........some of the most negative so-called Tennessee alums are definitely who you'd least want to go to war with. Another example..........Jeffery Flowers, proud owner of hundreds of different screen names, leader of the pack with posts removed. Still further example.........Merlot? Think they are ardent Tennessee backers. Nope, all of them plus this ArkyVol have habitually posted nothing but negative comments concerning anything about the Vols.

Strangely, those claiming to have hundreds of various degrees clearly come across as the worst examples of Tennessee supporters.

Many times.......we've heard the expression,
"educated fools." Could be what we are seeing here all too often.

arkyvol writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vol4gzus and other Vols,

Let me slide in here just for a sec.......re the arky Vol and numerous degrees........one comment. Hats off to the hundreds of degrees. Now, having said that......does that lend itself to making a Rhodes Scholar a loyal Tennessee fan? Hardly.

Example........some of the most negative so-called Tennessee alums are definitely who you'd least want to go to war with. Another example..........Jeffery Flowers, proud owner of hundreds of different screen names, leader of the pack with posts removed. Still further example.........Merlot? Think they are ardent Tennessee backers. Nope, all of them plus this ArkyVol have habitually posted nothing but negative comments concerning anything about the Vols.

Strangely, those claiming to have hundreds of various degrees clearly come across as the worst examples of Tennessee supporters.

Many times.......we've heard the expression,
"educated fools." Could be what we are seeing here all too often.

"educated fools?" i suppose. then there are the ordinary, run of the mill fools as your post so well proves. at any rate, i'm not responding further--he who argues with a fool is a bigger one.

Vols20 writes:

in response to BigOrangeFever76:

SevenTool,

Were you born a moron or did you just develop into one over the years? The best course of action would be for you to finish your GED and work on that promotion at the Waffle House.

That is a great response to an idiotic post...nice!

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

It's a shame that this website more closely resembles a high school hallway rather than a college football website.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to GiveHim6TDTennessee:

It's a shame that this website more closely resembles a high school hallway rather than a college football website.

You got that right! On topic, half the teams in the SEC would feel pretty good about their QB situation if they had Worley penciled in as the starter. The Vols are lucky to have him; I hope they can keep him if it looks like he will only have one year to start, i.e., if Bray doesn't go pro after next season.

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