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.