Little separation in quarterback battle after scrimmage

University of Tennessee quarterbacks Justin Worley, left, and Nathan Peterman practice before a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, April 6, 2013 in Knoxville. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

University of Tennessee quarterbacks Justin Worley, left, and Nathan Peterman practice before a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, April 6, 2013 in Knoxville. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

UT football scrimmage on Saturday at Neyland Stadium

Having watched balls sail high and bounce low for two hours, Tennessee football coach Butch Jones is still looking for his No. 1 quarterback.

“They managed it (leading the team) well but we’re still not there yet — where they’re fully in command with presence, in terms of barking out the cadence, the signals,” Jones said Saturday following the Vols’ second spring scrimmage at Neyland Stadium. “Really, the alpha male — barking out down and distance; when something is wrong, getting you in the right formation. All those things. That comes with time, but we don’t have time.”

Neither Tennessee quarterback progressed in the battle to be Jones’ alpha-male. A good day for the defense and rough day for the offense created little separation between Justin Worley, a 6-foot-4, 213-pound junior, and Nathan Peterman, a 6-2, 226-pound redshirt freshman.

Worley worked mostly with UT’s first-team offense. Peterman lined up with a second team that includes multiple walk-ons.

There were few highlights. Jones said he was “not pleased at all” with the offense as a whole, divvying up the blame to quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and linemen. Saturday saw nine three-and-outs by the offense and scarce scoring drives.

“Somebody is going to have to step up and play offense here come the first game against Austin Peay,” Jones said.

That’s five months away. The Orange and White game is two weeks away.

Thanks to inaccurate passing and spotty play from UT’s receiving corps, neither Worley nor Peterman used Saturday to distinguish who should be the No. 1 quarterback in the latter, let alone the former.

“I am concerned about the completion percentage,” Jones said. “It so much lands itself on the shoulders of the quarterback, but it’s more than that.”

The wideouts, for instance. No longer headlined by Justin Hunter or Cordarrelle Patterson, the unit struggled mightily.

“One-hundred thousand people just groaned,” Jones belted in a microphone, filling an empty Neyland Stadium after sophomore receiver Alton “Pig” Howard dropped a third-down pass across the middle.

There were plenty more gaffs. Howard wasn’t alone.

Jason Croom, though, offered some redemption. On a fourth-and-4 in a mock overtime scenario, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound redshirt freshman reached back to snatch a lagging pass for a first down. The offense punched in a “game-tying touchdown” moments later, prompting Jones to bellow, “All that was made possible by you,” with an accompanying back slap.

Worley and Peterman will hope for more of that from the receivers. It will help in the ongoing understanding of offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian’s get-up-and-go offense.

“It’s a hard tempo to get used to,” Peterman said. “I think we were a little slower last year, so it’s going to take a little time.”

Per Jones, there’s none of that to be had.

***

As he has all spring, senior defensive lineman Maurice Couch wore a green “no-contact” jersey due to offseason shoulder surgery. He said afterward he’ll likely remain in green for the remainder of the spring.

“I can’t stand being in it,” Couch said. “I want to be out there with the other guys, but I don’t want to get out there and reinjure myself again. I’m doing as much as possible to get to 100 percent.”

***

Some early excitement included Jones stopping play to send linebacker Corey Vereen out of the game. The freshman shoved senior tight end Joseph Ayres in the back after the two got tangled. Jones stormed toward Vereen yelling, “Get off the field. Take his helmet off. Take his pads off. We’re not doing that around here.”

Vereen exited without incident. He returned later after a chat with his head coach.

“He felt awful about it,” Jones said. “Everything was (in) his demeanor when I called him over. He knew what he’d done wrong. That was a great teaching point.”

***

UT players went to class last week armed with invitations for Saturday’s festivities from Jones to UT faculty members. More than 100 showed up. Their day began with a pre-scrimmage presentation from Jones on the importance of the student in a student-athlete. Breakfast and a tour of the facilities were included.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball and football. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn.

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Comments » 21

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

Maybe Butch should start shoving players, kicking them in the fanny and using homophobic phrases...

No Wait Lane already did all that + the guy at Rutgers got fired over it.

dvhill100 writes:

Nice touch to invite the professors. Never hurts to establish a good relationship with them.

vol98champ writes:

I'm hopeful for the future. I just wonder when it is going to begin. Some are saying that the starting QB arrives this summer.

1998 writes:

Maybe there's one at Auburn who'd like to join us. Better yet, grab one from USC. WOW! Now hat would be payback, eh?

Nighthawk writes:

Making points with the profs. Smooth, CBJ, smooth.

CBJ is slicker than boiled okra.

GBO

therightstuff writes:

Hope, hope, hope that all BuTch is doing shows on the field come fall. Gotta love the direction he is taking with the program....reaching out and all, but (always a but) it has to show when the whistle blows for real. Really hoping BuTch wins because he seems to love being here and being a Volunteer. Gotta believe!!! Go Vols !!!

wigmeister writes:

Te QB's had no real good coaching in there first years here. Hope they realize they have to improve FAST. Like what bUTch has brought to the program!

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

I've heard Kiel is still available!

jt45 writes:

The amount of work being done both on and off the field really highlights just how far the program had slipped in recent years. The new staff seems to be doing everything they can to coach up the current roster and have improved several areas by leaps and bounds. Incoming recruits are going to improve it even more

One thing seems apparent, the new staff is doing everything they can to get it done. Might be the hardest working staff we have had at UT in many many years.

Pompey writes:

...I don't know if Butch Jones can coach a lick. What I do know is that he has an unusually high skill level in public and player relations which can result in both recruiting at a high level and changing Tennessee football culture for the better...

tennesseetyler writes:

in response to jhayes0926#638474:

I've heard Kiel is still available!

Kiel is not that good.. he beat up on below average talent in the second tier class on Indiana football..when he finally had to play a top tier team in the regional he and the offense put up 7 points....

jjk writes:

If this is the case, it may be another long season on Rocky Top.

johnlg00 writes:

Great comments today. We all know the real test is yet to come for this team and staff, but everything I'm seeing on here tells me this staff really "gets" all that goes into winning college football better than anybody we've had around here for awhile. I can't help but believe that all the players who have been longing for this kind of leadership for their whole college careers are going to do everything in THEIR power to live up to the examples being set for them.

VolsFanInAfghanistan writes:

johnig00, I agree good comments today. Guys and Gals we also have to remember this is spring ball. Rust has got to be knocked off and then learning a new system again is not going to just happen. I believe over the course of the summer and into the fall they will start to gel. CBJ will not let this group of guys fail, be it in the classroom or on the field of play. I truly believe this. We're truly going to turn heads for the better this year. GBO VFL

thevoice writes:

Can't spell Butch without UT. Go Vols!

FLORIDAGATORHATER writes:

Can we just fast forward to next year, or maybe the year after that? This is gonna be ugly. Let's not kid ourselves.

FLORIDAGATORHATER writes:

in response to VolsFanInAfghanistan:

johnig00, I agree good comments today. Guys and Gals we also have to remember this is spring ball. Rust has got to be knocked off and then learning a new system again is not going to just happen. I believe over the course of the summer and into the fall they will start to gel. CBJ will not let this group of guys fail, be it in the classroom or on the field of play. I truly believe this. We're truly going to turn heads for the better this year. GBO VFL

Just substitute the word "hope" for the word "believe" in your post. That would be more accurate.

whatthe84 writes:

Once again guys keep the bar where it belongs...pretty low. Completely new staff, overhaul both offense and defense, new QB, all new receivers and questionable at best RB's is a receipe for another bad year. Only the most pie in the sky fans could forsee a good year. Lets expect a big dud this year and we won't be disappointed. Shoot for the stars and you will be needing medication. This is going to be at least 2-3 year process to begin to turn this mess around. CDD left a bare cupboard and that is for real and when new comes in the old has to be swept out. Patience!

exlineman writes:

Folks, I like to look at things on a positive side and I have faith in Coach Jones that he is doing things that will make players want to play and give 110 percent. Big programs can fall on their face and can be beat on any given Saturday. It is just a matter of time before Saban leaves Ala. and picks up a bigger check with someone else. He has proven several times that money means more to him than loyalty. It has been many years since we have had a coach that brings hard work and enthusiasm to the table like Coach Jones. He will get the job done and I personally don't think it will take him that long to get er done, as the old slang saying goes.

We need to show up in the stands this year, irregardless of who we are playing to show our support to our coach and team. Go Big Orange.

volcraze writes:

in response to Pompey:

...I don't know if Butch Jones can coach a lick. What I do know is that he has an unusually high skill level in public and player relations which can result in both recruiting at a high level and changing Tennessee football culture for the better...

Great comment. I agree. This is what UT needs at this point. And I believe it will pay off for everyone.

VolsFan82 writes:

in response to VolsFanInAfghanistan:

johnig00, I agree good comments today. Guys and Gals we also have to remember this is spring ball. Rust has got to be knocked off and then learning a new system again is not going to just happen. I believe over the course of the summer and into the fall they will start to gel. CBJ will not let this group of guys fail, be it in the classroom or on the field of play. I truly believe this. We're truly going to turn heads for the better this year. GBO VFL

Great points sir! Worley didn't exactly get a lot of development as a QB from CDD so CBJ's system is going to really test how fast he can mature as a QB but both him and Peterman will pick up this offense in no time. In any event, the orange and white game this year is going to be epic!

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