Justin Worley, Nathan Peterman not focused on competition for starting QB job during spring game

Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley looks for an open teammate during the Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium Saturday, April 20, 2013. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley looks for an open teammate during the Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium Saturday, April 20, 2013. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman shared a table inside Neyland Stadium’s Stokely Family Media Center on Saturday afternoon.

The two quarterbacks sat side by side. In the dust of Tennessee’s 2013 Orange and White Game, they volleyed answers back and forth. There was no winning or losing to discuss, though the Vols’ defense, wearing orange, beat the white-clad offense, 95-71, thanks to the afternoon’s video game scoring format.

Instead, the conversation pulled back its focus to a bigger picture.

Questions were reserved for where things stand and what sits ahead. At some point, Worley and Peterman won’t be side by side. At some point, one likely will be named the Vols’ starter by coach Butch Jones, replacing the NFL-bound Tyler Bray. The other will be handed a headset.

Orange versus white?

More like Worley versus Peterman.

Quarterback battles are the made-for-reality-TV drama of football, at any level. Both Worley and Peterman understand as much, but have handled such theater with tact. Saturday was no different. Each downplayed a quarterback duel that is plain to see.

“It wasn’t about the competition today,” said Worley, a junior who has an edge in the battle thanks to nine career games played including three starts as a freshman. “It was about going out and performing in front of the fans and just showing a little glimpse of what this team is going to be for the next year.”

The (announced) 61,076 sets of eyeballs inside Neyland might disagree. Those in attendance, like any eager fanbase, didn’t want a glimpse. They wanted a clear look at who is poised to be Tennessee’s leading man. That view never came. Saturday offered little separation.

Worley threw for 123 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 8-of-18 passing. The one touchdown came on a flare pass to wideout Cody Blanc, who turned a simple dump and catch into a 58-yard jaunt to the end zone.

Peterman completed nine of 23 passes for 98 yards. No touchdowns. No picks.

In fairness, both quarterbacks fed off a light cupboard of wide receivers. Injuries have cleared space on the shelves. Jacob Carter, Jason Croom and Paul Harris were all out of action, while Blanc and Vincent Dallas have only recently returned. Plus, there was certainly no Justin Hunter and/or Cordarrelle Patterson.

Ten different Vols caught a pass, but none snagged more than three. Alden Hill, a redshirt freshman running back, and Devrin Young, a running back turned wideout, led the way with three apiece.

Neither quarterback complained about a lack of weaponry, however.

“We’re just out there playing football,” Peterman said. “I had a pretty good time out there to be honest. I was just really happy.”

But now spring will go and summer will come and the next stage of UT’s quarterback battle will arise. Worley and Peterman will go side by side into the heat of June and July. Eventually they’ll be joined by incoming freshmen Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson, a duo rated as one of the best cumulative quarterback classes in the country.

In Jones’ words, the competition remains “wide open.” That’s why he’s asking for this in the offseason: “Everything. Everything needs to be worked on. Taking ownership in our receivers, tight ends, running backs and developing that trust and timing. Overall leadership. Overall command presence. Being the alpha male and understanding that.”

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

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Comments » 21

FWBVol writes:

in response to notfunanymore:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Try not to let your enthusiasm get in the way of things Sunshine. Nothing like calling the race over before it ever starts. I'm not predicting we will win 10 or 12 games this year, but we will be improved.

I didn't see the Orange and White game, but I was able to watch the Alabama spring game and their offense didn't look too good either. Saban even said he was unhappy with they way the Tide ended the spring.

There's no doubt we have a long way to go to get back to being the Tennessee football team that is one of the feared squads in college football.

Given time I believe Butch Jones will get us back in the hunt for SEC and national championships. No, it won't happen this year, but I believe we will be improved in 2013 even though it might not show up in the record.

Get on the Vol Train because it's leaving the station without you.

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

well I know one thing, they cancelled theirselves out today, lets hope josh dobbs is the answer

azorange writes:

I suspect...and hope...that this team will win a game or two that it's not supposed to win. Something Dooley's teams were never able to achieve. Don't know what kind of record we'll have though. Oh and one more thing, I believe we'll see fewer coaching issues like 13 players on the field since most of these coaches have been together. They will work out their communication flow early on. This could be a fun year. Certainly hope so!

jt45 writes:

I hope things improve by the fall. The local projected walk on could have done better than these two did in this game. Worley will get picked alot if he doesnt stop telegraphing his passes. A decent running game will be crucial this year with our limited play makers on offense.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to RockyToptoNeyland:

well I know one thing, they cancelled theirselves out today, lets hope josh dobbs is the answer

I agree;It is just a spring game but frankly neither QB looked remotely accurate.Even with a collapsing pocket a QB must step in to a pass and Worley was throwing off his back foot and leaning backwards((which will result in a bad pass everytime)) Peterman held his ground and stepped into the pass with a decent follow thru..Bray had a throwing motion that was effortless and fluid..These 2 may never have that. It being a spring game is reason to offer a lot of excuses but an 18% conversion rate on 3rd down is really bad. It's clear to all that building timing relationships with the WR's over the summer means everything but Iam not sure how much time the QB's will have with the incoming freshman in the summer.This offense has huge potential with a QB that can run the ball.Just look at all the production Manziel;Driskel and Shaw had last year..I don't think Dobbs is a pure running QB((maybe you guys no more)) but I wouldn't be shocked if Dobbs gets a lot of early play time

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Try not to let your enthusiasm get in the way of things Sunshine. Nothing like calling the race over before it ever starts. I'm not predicting we will win 10 or 12 games this year, but we will be improved.

I didn't see the Orange and White game, but I was able to watch the Alabama spring game and their offense didn't look too good either. Saban even said he was unhappy with they way the Tide ended the spring.

There's no doubt we have a long way to go to get back to being the Tennessee football team that is one of the feared squads in college football.

Given time I believe Butch Jones will get us back in the hunt for SEC and national championships. No, it won't happen this year, but I believe we will be improved in 2013 even though it might not show up in the record.

Get on the Vol Train because it's leaving the station without you.

I agree, UT needs to get this QB/WR situation fixed, but I like what I'm seeing out of the rest of the team. The defense was all over the place gang tackling, and Alden Hill ran like a man with a purpose. The kicking game looked much improved as well. There are plenty of good things happening at UT. We had all world talent at QB/WR last year and it only netted 5 wins. I feel UT will be much more balanced this season opposed to last..I'm picking them to win 6 or 7 games in the regular season..GBO!!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to notfunanymore:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If they do go 5&7 that won't be that bad considering a complete coaching/system change. I hope they do get to at least bowl eligibility, that would go along way in assuring the team/fans we are on the right path..GBO!!

SevenT writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

If they do go 5&7 that won't be that bad considering a complete coaching/system change. I hope they do get to at least bowl eligibility, that would go along way in assuring the team/fans we are on the right path..GBO!!

I believe in "Hope and Change" which is why I support both Obama and UT.

Smokey91 writes:

in response to notfunanymore:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did you cut and paste this comment on every page. What is worse than a troll? A redundant troll.

Smokey91 writes:

in response to Smokey91:

Did you cut and paste this comment on every page. What is worse than a troll? A redundant troll.

Sorry to use such a big word Troll. Redundant: It means that you say the same thing over and over again.

Smokey91 writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

I agree;It is just a spring game but frankly neither QB looked remotely accurate.Even with a collapsing pocket a QB must step in to a pass and Worley was throwing off his back foot and leaning backwards((which will result in a bad pass everytime)) Peterman held his ground and stepped into the pass with a decent follow thru..Bray had a throwing motion that was effortless and fluid..These 2 may never have that. It being a spring game is reason to offer a lot of excuses but an 18% conversion rate on 3rd down is really bad. It's clear to all that building timing relationships with the WR's over the summer means everything but Iam not sure how much time the QB's will have with the incoming freshman in the summer.This offense has huge potential with a QB that can run the ball.Just look at all the production Manziel;Driskel and Shaw had last year..I don't think Dobbs is a pure running QB((maybe you guys no more)) but I wouldn't be shocked if Dobbs gets a lot of early play time

I like both Justin and Nathan but feel like our next great QB will not be arriving until the end of the summer. But at least we finally get a sense of hope for a better program. Justin Coleman said it all in an interview when he said that before Jones arrived, they were a coach-led team. Dooley just was not good at leadership in areas where it counted most. Jones has the team on the right track.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to SevenT:

I believe in "Hope and Change" which is why I support both Obama and UT.

Okay?? Don't get me started on Marxist Obama.

UTvols33 writes:

That is the problem as I see it. These two should be looking at it as a competition, why aren't they? One should step up and say, "screw you, dude, this is my team and I want to lead them to victory," and try to outplay the other. This is ridiculous, please stop being so nice to each other and step up! These two are making it too easy for Dobbs or Ferguson to step in and take this offense from them.

GO VOLS! BEAT FLORIDA!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to UTvols33:

That is the problem as I see it. These two should be looking at it as a competition, why aren't they? One should step up and say, "screw you, dude, this is my team and I want to lead them to victory," and try to outplay the other. This is ridiculous, please stop being so nice to each other and step up! These two are making it too easy for Dobbs or Ferguson to step in and take this offense from them.

GO VOLS! BEAT FLORIDA!

That's true, when I played (30 years ago) I wanted to beat out the guy ahead of me on the depth chart. We were teammates only, not friends off the field. When we ran drills we tried to kill each other. I remember one scrimmage where I went low on a lead blocking fullback and injured his knee. Back then it was dog eat dog, we can be civil at the dorm.

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to SevenT:

I believe in "Hope and Change" which is why I support both Obama and UT.

you support UT? From all the drivel you post I don't think so troll

FWBVol writes:

in response to utvolfan1955:

you support UT? From all the drivel you post I don't think so troll

This guy is a Kentucky fan that comes on to stir the pot.

utvolfan1955 writes:

Riley Ferguson and Joshua Dobbs were also sitting side by side in the stands during the O&W game

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to utvolfan1955:

Riley Ferguson and Joshua Dobbs were also sitting side by side in the stands during the O&W game

They were probably laughing and saying: "Man, I could make that pass in my sleep"..Early PT, Baby!!

voloffaith writes:

in response to SevenT:

I believe in "Hope and Change" which is why I support both Obama and UT.

Mister katmandont......I keep telling everyone that President has brought me what he promised.....I have HOPE ,though in Jesus, and the president has left me with only CHANGE in my pocket. Better stated we need HOPE that is not puffy and we are looking forward to CHANGE in 2016.........hopefully for the better...

on topic.......qb battle will take care of itself one way or another......fear not ye minions of the Orange color...not 7T of kitten land............

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

They were probably laughing and saying: "Man, I could make that pass in my sleep"..Early PT, Baby!!

I don't know about what but there was laughter

volpreacher writes:

I'm old enough to remember Peyton Manning and some spring games even through his senior season and he did terrible in most. I'm not saying either is Peyton, but I'm saying give it time guys. I was there and saw the bad passes like you did, but there's a degree of nerves going through these kids heads even though they didn't admit it. For the first time in a while, the starting qb isn't for sure and perhaps their lack of accuracy came from being hesitate. That's not good either, I agree with a poster above, it's time to say, hey this is my job. Otherwise, one of these freshmen is going to get the startng nod. Personally, I don't care who gets the nod as long as UT wins. Go Vols!

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