Dooley on systemic issues with the Vols
Or does the Tennessee coaching staff really envision the possibility of benching the main cog in its offense more than halfway into the season?
Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, with a bemused look, stopped the question before it's finished.
"Yes," he said, "there's a scenario we could envision about anything."
He is, after all, a coach.
Rhetoric aside, the chances of Bray being benched when Tennessee (3-4, 0-4 SEC) plays at No. 17 South Carolina (6-2, 4-2) on Saturday (TV: ESPN, noon) are probably slim.
But for the first time this season, Worley now has a path to playing time that doesn't include an injury to Bray.
"I would love to play, but it's in the coach's hands right now," Worley said this week.
Chaney brushed aside the importance of the quarterback battle, saying it's the same as any position on the field.
"I think Coach (Dooley) has addressed that issue. We're looking for performance out of all our positions," Chaney said. "If we're not getting it, we're willing to make changes."
Worley is from Rock Hill, S.C., although culturally he probably identifies more closely with
the state to his north. Rock Hill is essentially a suburb of Charlotte. Both his parents went to North Carolina. He didn't grow up either a South Carolina or Clemson fan, and he was never recruited by the Gamecocks.
He played for a powerhouse high school program at Northwestern High (where he was teammates with UT receiver Cordarrelle Patterson) and has made three trips to Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia for postseason games.
"It is exciting. I know a lot of folks who will be there," he said.
Worley was tossed into action as a true freshman last year. He completed 48 of 87 passes for 604 yards in four games, but threw three interceptions and only one touchdown. He's played a handful of snaps late in three games this year, including the fourth quarter of last week's loss to Alabama.
"He handled himself responsibility and did a nice job when he was out on the field," Chaney said.
There were some rocky moments in Worley's freshman season, but Chaney said he's better for having the experience.
"(Experience) is important at any position, but it might be even more profound at quarterback," Chaney said. "I think his confidence level is a lot higher and I think he understands the offense better now than he did a year ago. He's seen all the teams in the league. He understands what he has to do to get ready to play games. I think Justin has been in a good place all year and I look forward to him to be ready to play if we need him to play."
Worley finds himself in the dilemma faced by every backup quarterback in the country. He wants to play, but doesn't wish any ill on the guy in front of him.
"Every week it is just another week, and we have to prepare like we're the starter," he said. "Right now Tyler is still the starter, but every week we have to be prepared."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.