John Adams: UT quarterback race might not end in September

John Adams
Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel
Tennessee quarterbacks Justin Worley, left, Nathan Peterman, center, and Joe Stocstill practice before a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium on April 6.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel Tennessee quarterbacks Justin Worley, left, Nathan Peterman, center, and Joe Stocstill practice before a scrimmage at Neyland Stadium on April 6.

Tennessee football practice on April 9, 2013

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Tennessee isn’t sure who its next starting quarterback will be. But it knows who he won’t be.

He won’t be Marcus Mariota, Oregon’s Heisman Trophy candidate.

And he won’t be Aaron Murray, Georgia’s Heisman Trophy candidate.

Or AJ McCarron, Alabama’s Heisman Trophy candidate.

As if UT fans weren’t apprehensive enough after three consecutive losing seasons, now they have to deal with uncertainty at the sport’s most important position. The uncertainty is exacerbated by the competition.

Tennessee’s five most formidable opponents have few quarterback concerns. Aside from the aforementioned Heisman candidates, there’s also Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel, who had his SEC coming-out party against UT last September. And South Carolina proved last season it could win with either Connor Shaw or Dylan Thompson, who both return at quarterback.

None of those names come to mind for comparative purposes when examining UT’s current state of quarterback affairs. Nor do the two principals remind you of UT’s previous quarterback, Tyler Bray, who — despite his shaky moments in tight games — could at least throw passes that caught the eyes of NFL scouts.

Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman reminded you mainly of each other in Saturday’s spring scrimmage. Both struggled.

The critiques of their struggles will resonate until another Saturday scrimmage presents them with a second chance. If there’s a repeat performance, UT fans will begin pondering the second coming of Matt Simms, who had the thankless task of steering coach Derek Dooley’s first Tennessee offense through a gauntlet of national championship contenders in 2010.

Once the heavyweights had finished using the Vols for a punching bag, Simms was summoned to the bench, and the offense flourished with true freshman Bray at the helm against lighter fare. Now, you have to wonder if the competition might unfold similarly in coach Butch Jones’ first season.

Two promising newcomers, Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson, will join the quarterback competition in the preseason. And the schedule is again favorable in November compared with September or October.

But it’s too early to dismiss Worley or Peterman, given their disadvantages.

Both have had to assimilate a new offense. They also haven’t had the luxury of throwing to last season’s top four receivers, all of whom will pursue pro possibilities. The receiving corps has been further depleted by injuries.

Jones asked a reporter after Tuesday’s practice if he might be available for receiving duties. Such pass-catching humor is likely lost on Worley and Peterman, who are trying to find their way to the starting job amidst the unenviable circumstances.

Although UT’s offensive line should be one of the best in the SEC, the running game is questionable at best. So is the defense. And the schedule includes back-to-back September games at Oregon and Florida, two of college football’s most hostile venues.

Worley has had the preponderance of snaps with the first-team offense this spring. He’s also the only UT quarterback with game experience at this level. That’s enough to qualify him as the favorite to start the season opener.

But, as Simms can tell you, starting the season as Tennessee’s quarterback doesn’t assure you of finishing it.

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.

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 41

8ball writes:

I always new I wasn't the brightest light on a Christmas tree, but I finally found one less bright than me, guess who? JA

Voltransplant writes:

I think Riley Ferguson will be the starter. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders. If I remember correctly he is a 4* recruit.

Rumblefish writes:

John Adams,
Where in this article are you telling even the most "casual" of Tennessee football followers something they didn't already know???

Come on man. You acutally get paid for this??? Stick to womens basketball please. You see how many comments your articles on the lady vols generate, right?--hardly any.

QB question with Simms and/or Bray starting. Simms had trouble and was replaced.--Breaking news there!

Tennessee currently has QB issues and one might be replaced if he doesn't perform.---Shocking insight! That doesn't happen at any other major college program anywhere!!--hahahahahaha

Seriously man??? How about some actual "reporting", instead of re-hashing something that every college/university goes through.

What is your point in this?--That if a QB does bad that he will be replaced by his competition?--Just brilliant! (insert sarcasm)

Voltransplant writes:

3* I guess that was wishful thinking.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Voltransplant:

3* I guess that was wishful thinking.

I think incoming freshman QB Joshua Dobbs was rated a 4-star.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

John Adams,
Where in this article are you telling even the most "casual" of Tennessee football followers something they didn't already know???

Come on man. You acutally get paid for this??? Stick to womens basketball please. You see how many comments your articles on the lady vols generate, right?--hardly any.

QB question with Simms and/or Bray starting. Simms had trouble and was replaced.--Breaking news there!

Tennessee currently has QB issues and one might be replaced if he doesn't perform.---Shocking insight! That doesn't happen at any other major college program anywhere!!--hahahahahaha

Seriously man??? How about some actual "reporting", instead of re-hashing something that every college/university goes through.

What is your point in this?--That if a QB does bad that he will be replaced by his competition?--Just brilliant! (insert sarcasm)

Yes,Adams gets paid to write his opinion and show his arss while you and others show your arss for free.What is your point?

GoVols_16 writes:

You know who else was a 3* coming out of college?

Johnny Manziel

I trust that Butch knows how to coach QBs...

Rumblefish writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

Yes,Adams gets paid to write his opinion and show his arss while you and others show your arss for free.What is your point?

Uhhh....i guess you missed my point that this is not an "opinion" piece (as you woefully tried to suggest). Rather, he is just merely stating the obvious. And this is me questioning him/his editors on why he gets paid to state the obvious.

I guess you missed that. That's ok. We can't all be smart. After all...the world needs janitors! In case you missed the announcement....clean up on isle 3, bowler.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

Yes,Adams gets paid to write his opinion and show his arss while you and others show your arss for free.What is your point?

Who hit the old crusty b@st@rd comment button??

tovolny writes:

TERRIBLE. If John Adams' writing ability were a pet, we would have to put it down. UT fans deserve more than the negative (ha ha's') and the (he he's') that John rubs on us. Would you stand for a stupid guy that kept on and on telling you and everybody else that you had an UGLY sister... I should hope not. Well wise up folks...this guy needs to move back to Slidel and keep his mouth shut.

rb4346 writes:

in response to GoVols_16:

You know who else was a 3* coming out of college?

Johnny Manziel

I trust that Butch knows how to coach QBs...

Agree. I think that CBJ will have his quarterback by the opening game. It may be Ferguson or Dobbs but I think Gurley or Peterman will win out. Who knows, we may have another Manziel in the bunch.

SEC__Headgear writes:

Sims was not coached by Jones.

Adams still owes me a shirt for beating him repeatedly on college football predictions.

Pay up!!

iowavol writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

Yes,Adams gets paid to write his opinion and show his arss while you and others show your arss for free.What is your point?

Dude made his point eloquently and succinctly. It was obvious to even the casual observer. Your point is less straight forward but still intuitively obvious to that same casual observer. You are a John Adams fan and don't appreciate people stating the truth about him. Adams is a rabble rouser because it's easier to do than be a gifted and insightful reporter. Regardless, you are entitled to your right to respect JA no matter how unintelligent it appears to even the disinterested observer.

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to 8ball:

I always new I wasn't the brightest light on a Christmas tree, but I finally found one less bright than me, guess who? JA

Ohhhhhhhhhh, i don't think so, it is as you "new" it to begin with

The_Power_T writes:

I got through 3 lines thinking maybe Adams wouldn't write his typical, obvious, negative junk. I was wrong. I don't ever remember a writer that just bothers me so bad. He is like a professional troll. Probably stuffed in too many lockers as a kid. I thought at first that maybe he just has a bad rap, but now I get it. He really is a terrible writer. I think I speak for the rest of us when I say we would love to not have you anymore. I'm not asking for all articles to be full of positivity and sunshine, but come on man, does everything have to be so negative?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

7th choice coach?? Once again you proved what a buffoon you really are..Even if CBJ was UT's 7th choice, then that would mean 6 other coaches' turned UT down..So, with that asinine statement being said: That only proves we are lucky to have Butch Jones, because no other division I fb coach in the country wanted the job..Thanks for helping us realize just how fortunate UT is to have a coach that was in such high demand (at least 3 other programs offered before UT did) yet, he was so interested in the UT job he put Colorado on hold waiting for Charlie Strong's response..UT is lucky indeed, good point, Jeffy..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to yabadabadoo1026:

Ohhhhhhhhhh, i don't think so, it is as you "new" it to begin with

I guess in his dictionary the word "Renewed" means remembered??

Geofffourmyle writes:

Adams does seem to resting on his laurels, such as they are.

Walt

UT '81

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to 9willbesofine:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, the same guy that beat Charlie Strong like a rented goat..You know Charlie, the Louisville coach that dominated Willy in the Sugar Bowl this year..

CroKev writes:

Maybe Vol fans should invoke their own version of Reagan's 11th commandment: "Thou shalt not speakly badly of another Republican."

It would be an interesting experiment to ignore both JA and trolls for an entire month and keep the posts either positive or positively constructive. Maybe just a 'pipe dream' but you never know. I'd be willing to give it a try...

FanNotSheep writes:

We will miss Tyler Bray. Worley will win the starting job, but not sure with a new hurry-up offense who will be running it by the end of the season. I don't see a huge problem with the article but do agree that it would be nice if it contained insight into the situation instead of just describing the situation.

Not sure Adams will ever bring that to the table and it's not because he has no writing talent. He is by far the most talented sportswriter on the staff. But first, John is a columnist and not a reporter and second, his constant sarcasm prevents any coach from giving him any inside info. As for the other KNS sports writers? Strange is a good guy but a rather bland read, and the newbies are second-tier. I do rate Quinn way way below the others. He apparently thinks he is creative but he mixes metaphors and lacks an understanding of the meaning of many of the analogies he attempts to use. Sad really.

DC82_Vol writes:

I like to read the post to see what other fans think of our team. Unfortunately, more posters spend more time dogging JA than talking about the topic of the article.

I would have liked to have read more of people's opinions of our current QBs, including the ones coming in this summer. Oh well.

FanNotSheep writes:

in response to DC82_Vol:

I like to read the post to see what other fans think of our team. Unfortunately, more posters spend more time dogging JA than talking about the topic of the article.

I would have liked to have read more of people's opinions of our current QBs, including the ones coming in this summer. Oh well.

I think the guy who left is a great QB, maybe the second-best pure passer in UT history. If he wasn't there last year I believe Worley was good enough to start and be effective. Peterman has plenty of potential and I'm not sure which of the two will fit Jones' system better.

I truly don't think the QB position is that big of a problem, but somebody has to really step it up at wide receiver and running back if the offense is going to compete in the SEC games.

I don't have time to watch high school film so I'm not your guy on recruits. I work too many hours a week to scout them and long ago decided it's better to wait and see how they play in the SEC anyway. That's a really, really big test -- as you know.

VolsFanInAfghanistan writes:

Dear sweet baby jesus, I come to you today praying that you give the Volunteers the needed insight as to playing better. I also pray that you will please give these negative Tennessee fans something else to gripe about because they are beginning to get on my last dang nerve. Oh and please give the head negative guy Johnny come lately and his legion of negative followers peace, amen. GOB VFL

VolzsFan writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Yeah, the same guy that beat Charlie Strong like a rented goat..You know Charlie, the Louisville coach that dominated Willy in the Sugar Bowl this year..

Coach Dooley beat Butch like a rented mule. Butch had more players.

antonio14313 writes:

i'm thinking that peterman is just that good, not that worley is just that bad. go vols.

t

antonio14313 writes:

in response to tovolny:

TERRIBLE. If John Adams' writing ability were a pet, we would have to put it down. UT fans deserve more than the negative (ha ha's') and the (he he's') that John rubs on us. Would you stand for a stupid guy that kept on and on telling you and everybody else that you had an UGLY sister... I should hope not. Well wise up folks...this guy needs to move back to Slidel and keep his mouth shut.

i completely agree. go vols.

t

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

GFY.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Coach Dooley beat Butch like a rented mule. Butch had more players.

Well, Dooley had Les Miles, Butch Davis and Spurrier on the ropes as well..Not to mention UL-Monroe beat Saban his first season at Bama..I guess that means whoever Monroe's coach was/is he's better than Saban..NOT!!

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

GFY.

Jeffy tried that, he couldn't even get any action with himself.

underthehill writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

I think the guy who left is a great QB, maybe the second-best pure passer in UT history. If he wasn't there last year I believe Worley was good enough to start and be effective. Peterman has plenty of potential and I'm not sure which of the two will fit Jones' system better.

I truly don't think the QB position is that big of a problem, but somebody has to really step it up at wide receiver and running back if the offense is going to compete in the SEC games.

I don't have time to watch high school film so I'm not your guy on recruits. I work too many hours a week to scout them and long ago decided it's better to wait and see how they play in the SEC anyway. That's a really, really big test -- as you know.

I think the freshman coming in is the real deal and may be starting before the year is out unless he is redshirted..he came to UT for an education as well as to play football..recruiting him was limited to schools who could provide that special course in education..

gc_scvol writes:

Jeffry and Johnny a match made in He!!

drwut70 writes:

Well that's it for me so it must be. Adams says UT don't have a quarterback to compare with all the others in the SEC -- gonna be another losing season.
BTW, how any times are we going to be reminded by all these jock sniffing writers that the VOLS have had three losing seasons in in a row.

SouthPaVol writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

John Adams,
Where in this article are you telling even the most "casual" of Tennessee football followers something they didn't already know???

Come on man. You acutally get paid for this??? Stick to womens basketball please. You see how many comments your articles on the lady vols generate, right?--hardly any.

QB question with Simms and/or Bray starting. Simms had trouble and was replaced.--Breaking news there!

Tennessee currently has QB issues and one might be replaced if he doesn't perform.---Shocking insight! That doesn't happen at any other major college program anywhere!!--hahahahahaha

Seriously man??? How about some actual "reporting", instead of re-hashing something that every college/university goes through.

What is your point in this?--That if a QB does bad that he will be replaced by his competition?--Just brilliant! (insert sarcasm)

I found an intelligent, insightful part to a JA article--its comments. I've traveled to 40 countries and have found their local reporters writing in English, their second language, produce more thought-inspired writing than our own foreigner, JA.

flatrock writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Get a life, John... or, change meds.

laraccoon writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Coach Dooley beat Butch like a rented mule. Butch had more players.

2 or 3 years from now UT will be a team to beat in the SEC once again and you will still be wiping counters at IHOP and running your pie hole anonymously because in the real world someone would shut it , just sayin .

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to VolsFanInAfghanistan:

Dear sweet baby jesus, I come to you today praying that you give the Volunteers the needed insight as to playing better. I also pray that you will please give these negative Tennessee fans something else to gripe about because they are beginning to get on my last dang nerve. Oh and please give the head negative guy Johnny come lately and his legion of negative followers peace, amen. GOB VFL

Vols fan/friend in Afghanistan,

Take care over there.

You must be talking about the whiner, Wilted Flowers. Stay tuned friend. He'll switch to another screen name soon. Usually, he is banned and comes back over and over again. Remember, he has this thing with alumni and coaches.

Karl Kremser, Glenn Ford, and Derek Dooley was his all time obsession. This jerk is a failure and has to take it out on everyone else.

Stay safe and get back here friend.

smokeygrowl writes:

in response to rb4346:

Agree. I think that CBJ will have his quarterback by the opening game. It may be Ferguson or Dobbs but I think Gurley or Peterman will win out. Who knows, we may have another Manziel in the bunch.

worley and peterman don't have a flippin chance

smokeygrowl writes:

Guys one of the freshmen is going to be the starter.They are players.Its not like worley or peterman have time in the system. The system is new to the whole team. Dobbs is going to study to be a rocket scientist. Ferguson seems like a tough cocky kid and is big enough physically to take the punishment.

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

I have watched many average QB's win in the SEC. Especially at LSU and Bama. But those QB's had great defenses and very good lines and RB's. They basicly played the Trent Dilfer role. UT has the OL but not sure the running game or defense can win games until the QB gains experience. Plus teams should be able to play 8 men in the box until a WR treat is found. I'm not bashing these kids as they may prove to be decent SEC QB's. But I can't see them putting up points like last season so somebody better find a secondary in a hurry to keep games close going into the 4th quarter. So many changes it will be difficult to evaluate until we see them on the field vs SEC talent. Keep it close and hope for the best in the 4th and don't turn the ball over. Basic SEC football.

Shake_Bake writes:

It's going to be a long season, especially with that very tough schedule! But I will continue to support the team no matter what happens! I just hope they play hard and give 100% on every play. The QB's will not be the only ones having a difficult time this fall. We all are!!

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