Butch Jones says Riley Ferguson has 'stepped up,' although he hasn't named a starting QB

Tennessee quarterback Riley Ferguson during practice at Haslam Field on Saturday, August 10, 2013. 
  
 (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Saul Young

Tennessee quarterback Riley Ferguson during practice at Haslam Field on Saturday, August 10, 2013. (SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee football practice on Aug. 16, 2013

Tennessee coach Butch Jones delivered a morsel of news on the quarterback front Friday, then immediately took it back. He also asked for his message to be verbatim, so here it is.

“The individual who stepped up (Friday) was Riley Ferguson,” he began. “Don’t write about it. He’s not the starting quarterback. We don’t have a starting quarterback right now, so don’t put words in my mouth.”

Jones made his quarterbacks “live” on Friday. No longer were they off limits from contact. If a defender had a shot, he could take it. Of all the quarterbacks, according to Jones’ words, Ferguson stood out.

“I thought that he showed some poise,” Jones said. “The thing I liked about him was his pocket presence. He doesn’t get rattled and he made some big throws.”

But don’t get carried away. The race for Tennessee’s starting quarterback is still very much alive. Justin Worley, the junior who most consider the frontrunner, remains locked in competition with Ferguson, redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman and freshman Joshua Dobbs, none of whom have ever taken a collegiate snap.

“We’re a long ways away from naming a starting quarterback,” Jones clarified.

The opening game, however, is not a long ways away. The Vols face Austin Peay at Neyland Stadium in two weeks.

Ferguson is a slender 6-foot-3, 173-pound freshman. After making plenty of errant throws early in preseason camp, he’s gradually shown more consistency on both short passes and deep balls. More importantly, his judgment has improved.

“He hasn’t had the catastrophic plays that he had early,” Jones said. “He’s taking care of the football.”

***

Jones used Friday’s meeting with the media to specifically call out his ballyhooed offensive line. Discussing camp fatigue, he said, “We have to do a much better job and it starts with our offensive line. We had a fourth and 1 today and ran the ball and didn’t get it. That’s inexcusable. I think too many people want to crown them. They have a lot of work to do.”

***

A practice originally scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday has been canceled. Instead, the Vols will use the morning for an “extensive walk-through” in preparation for Saturday night’s open practice at Neyland.

***

Two UT newcomers had the black stripes removed from their helmet between Thursday and Friday. Junior college transfer receiver Johnathon Johnson and freshman defensive lineman Jaylen Miller became the sixth and seventh first-year players to “earn their stripes.”

***

The Vols’ punt protection bumbled through drills Friday and met Jones’ wrath. Following back-to-back blocked punts, Jones stopped and wailed, “Two punts, two blocks! This is like putting on your Vandy game (from last year). This is the Bad News Bears!”

He only shook his head when the next punt attempt resulted in a snap deflecting off a “personal protector” standing between the line of scrimmage and the punter.

***

The line of the day came when Jones noticed Byron Moore resting his hands on hips and compared him to fellow safety Brian Randolph.

“This is like synchronized swimming, except it’s synchronized softness,” Jones said.

***

Kicker/punter Michael Palardy, receiver Ryan Jenkins and defensive back Mike Williams worked with trainers and did not practice.

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

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Comments » 86

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Ferguson stepping up says a lot about how open the QB position is. I think RF has the best arm out of the group, if he can grasp this scheme he may emerge the #1 QB before the 31st. If there ever was a game you could throw a Freshman in as starting QB, APSU would be the team to do it with..GBO!!

td writes:

Another thought about the new gray uniforms -- they provide the opportunity for the defense to claim the moniker, "The Gray Wolves." But anytime you start picking labels, you better be able to live up to it. I would think CBJ will name a starting QB early next week to finish out camp before game week.

SteelerNation writes:

Mark it down Riley will be our starter....in 2014. On another topic vandy had an open practice last night with a whopping 200-300 fans in attendance. What a joke of a program and a head coach. Time for vol nation to show everyone what kind of fan base we have. Trust me recruits will be watching. GBO!!!!!!

DC82_Vol writes:

Palardy and Darr have to be two of the biggest disappointments in UT recruiting history. #1 my behind. Your a punter and kicker, how do you get hurt. Please recruit a capable kicker.

flatrock writes:

QB is not the problem. Worley will be fine. Need for OL to improverun blocking / toughness / leadership. And WRs must run proper routes vs. different schemes. Media -most of whom know very little about offensive football- write only about QBs because that is the only position that their untrained eyes watch. GO BIG GREY - yuck.

Pompey writes:

....Ferguson and North from Mecklenburg County, NC, and Justin Worley from adjoining York County SC. where Clowny is also from. These two counties rival the entire state of Tennessee in four star plus players and Dooley didn't even accompany the caravan to Charlotte last year.....see you at the Charlotte caravan next year in Butch...!

vol1994 writes:

I know it is only practice but I do not understand why we are so bad on special teams. Palardy will supposedly have kickoff, punting, field goal, and PAT duties. We also have struggled on the return game over the yrs.

Hopefully this yr will be different as field position will be critical this season since our offense (mainly skilled positions) is so green. I can't figure out why UT has struggled in most areas of special teams. Thoughts?

VOLfan_in_Wyoming writes:

in response to vol1994:

I know it is only practice but I do not understand why we are so bad on special teams. Palardy will supposedly have kickoff, punting, field goal, and PAT duties. We also have struggled on the return game over the yrs.

Hopefully this yr will be different as field position will be critical this season since our offense (mainly skilled positions) is so green. I can't figure out why UT has struggled in most areas of special teams. Thoughts?

I thought I read somewhere last year that The Dooley staff didn't have a kicking coach. They were having some local high school kicking coach come in and work with the kickers. I'm almost positive I read that. Then again, I was searching for my glasses that were resting on the top of my head for almost an hour this morning too. Anyway, if that is true some of these guys never got any coaching. Wonder why the last three years ended up the way they did?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to vol1994:

I know it is only practice but I do not understand why we are so bad on special teams. Palardy will supposedly have kickoff, punting, field goal, and PAT duties. We also have struggled on the return game over the yrs.

Hopefully this yr will be different as field position will be critical this season since our offense (mainly skilled positions) is so green. I can't figure out why UT has struggled in most areas of special teams. Thoughts?

I believe NCAA fb did away with the ST coaching position back when George Cafego was sent packing. Ironically UT hasn't had good ST since. Now, a position coach must also coach ST as a collateral duty. Hopefully, UT now has a coach that can effectively balance both and still do an adequate job.

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

Yes, but Ferguson has more TATTOOS than me and Coach Butch does.. he has to be a Bad Boy with arm tats like that..

Get some "Gray Tats" Ferguson like they get in prison and we'll put a splash of orange with it. (like the UT Gray Uniforms)

BolivrBob writes:

I don't know that he will start but Fergy has been my pick from the start

DawgDayAfternoon writes:

in response to NINEwillstillbesofine:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

With all that ink, someone should ask Butchie Boy whether he coaches him or reads him. You're right, and it won't matter who they start, none of them can play. The Dawgs will feast in Neyland as well against the Big Gray.

Oooo...Big Gray...How scary does that sound!

BigOrangeFreak writes:

The comments about the kicking game are really discouraging. They did mention that Palardy was working with trainers and did not practice, so it must've been Darr out there blowing chunks.

I sure hope our kicking game is improved over the mess that Dooley fielded.

DawgDayAfternoon writes:

in response to BigOrangeFreak:

The comments about the kicking game are really discouraging. They did mention that Palardy was working with trainers and did not practice, so it must've been Darr out there blowing chunks.

I sure hope our kicking game is improved over the mess that Dooley fielded.

With Palardy, If I were Butchie Boy, I wouldn't put much faith in the Shawshanker's redemption.

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

in response to DawgDayAfternoon:

With all that ink, someone should ask Butchie Boy whether he coaches him or reads him. You're right, and it won't matter who they start, none of them can play. The Dawgs will feast in Neyland as well against the Big Gray.

Oooo...Big Gray...How scary does that sound!

Blah blah blah.
Fulmer good.
Blah blah blah.
Everybody else bad.
Blah blah blah.

florida-volfan writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Ferguson stepping up says a lot about how open the QB position is. I think RF has the best arm out of the group, if he can grasp this scheme he may emerge the #1 QB before the 31st. If there ever was a game you could throw a Freshman in as starting QB, APSU would be the team to do it with..GBO!!

I was hoping Nate Peterman would step up because of his size and scrambling ability...and he played ball in my hometown of Jax FL. He's a good kid and it sounds like its pretty tight between them all...it will make them better QB's. But I like a QB with running ability in the college ranks, we last won a National title with one in Tee Martin. Maybe Ferguson is a good runner too, I'm not familiar with him yet. Justin Worley is not too good running I've already seen that

lomas98 writes:

Wow, an article on football and not the alternate uniform. Hallelujah.

florida-volfan writes:

in response to DawgDayAfternoon:

With all that ink, someone should ask Butchie Boy whether he coaches him or reads him. You're right, and it won't matter who they start, none of them can play. The Dawgs will feast in Neyland as well against the Big Gray.

Oooo...Big Gray...How scary does that sound!

WTH is a Damm Georgia fan doing in here on a UT website. Typical...get a life man.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to florida-volfan:

I was hoping Nate Peterman would step up because of his size and scrambling ability...and he played ball in my hometown of Jax FL. He's a good kid and it sounds like its pretty tight between them all...it will make them better QB's. But I like a QB with running ability in the college ranks, we last won a National title with one in Tee Martin. Maybe Ferguson is a good runner too, I'm not familiar with him yet. Justin Worley is not too good running I've already seen that

Agreed, unless you're the best QB at utilizing your weapons ala Peyton/Tom Brady (neither won a NC). I prefer a QB that can make the defense play respecting the run. Peterman is more dangerous because he's a dual threat QB. The only problem with him is his arm strength and pocket presence isn't where CBJ would like it to be.

BruisedOrange writes:

in response to td:

Another thought about the new gray uniforms -- they provide the opportunity for the defense to claim the moniker, "The Gray Wolves." But anytime you start picking labels, you better be able to live up to it. I would think CBJ will name a starting QB early next week to finish out camp before game week.

I would be happier if the defense earned the moniker "Gray Matter."

A few more injuries and we may be referring to our cornerbacks as the Graytful Dead.

baldingalum writes:

One thing about Ferguson... He won A LOT in high school.

ThaiVolFan writes:

I was excited when i heard Butch Jones statement of Fergusons improvement. The unknown of what we will look like as a team under Jones is exciting and thinking that a freshmen is stepping up and giving him reasons to compliment his progress just adds to the excitement that things will be different and better on the Hill this year. I guess it is the unknown that is the most appealing about the situation. Not really excited to see Worley running things if he lacks the ability to really ignite the offense. Hoping for a pleasant surprise at the qb position this year.
GBO!

volfaninutah writes:

in response to vol1994:

I know it is only practice but I do not understand why we are so bad on special teams. Palardy will supposedly have kickoff, punting, field goal, and PAT duties. We also have struggled on the return game over the yrs.

Hopefully this yr will be different as field position will be critical this season since our offense (mainly skilled positions) is so green. I can't figure out why UT has struggled in most areas of special teams. Thoughts?

Palardy seems too interested in twitter. He needs more focus on his kicking duties. Like someone said earlier, how does a kicker get injured so often? Does he do leg curls with just one leg?

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to NINEwillstillbesofine:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Teddy Bridgewater fed those Gaters a Happy Meal in the Sugar Bowl beat down. bwahahahahaha

Rock_E_Topp88 writes:

in response to florida-volfan:

WTH is a Damm Georgia fan doing in here on a UT website. Typical...get a life man.

That throat-oyster is not a UGA fan at all. Its the worst Benedict Arnold traitor to ever disgrace this site. I won't mention his slimy name but his brother, Richmond Flowers, is a Vol legend. Posting garbage on here under several screen names is how he gets his kicks. Whatta loser.

GO VOLS!

gameofvols writes:

in response to DawgDayAfternoon:

With all that ink, someone should ask Butchie Boy whether he coaches him or reads him. You're right, and it won't matter who they start, none of them can play. The Dawgs will feast in Neyland as well against the Big Gray.

Oooo...Big Gray...How scary does that sound!

Where do you get 8 you idiot. TN has owned the GA puppies. Now go crawl back in your HOLE with Ray Goff, another GA loser.

mikethehistorystudent writes:

Dobbs won't start this year, but I have high hopes for him in two years.

Teresa writes:

Ferguson got rid of his black stripe after this article was written so that's good. Alabama tried hard to steal him from us, but he has grandparents in East Tenn who are really big Vol fans. That would be good for them if he wins the job, which I think he will eventually. He won two state championships at one of the best schools in NC.

I'd like to know if he can run a little also. Butch did say he used his feet to get out of problems but I don't know if that meant just getting away from defenders long enough to throw the ball or truly running it. He's pretty skinny right now to be a true runner.

Georgia fan, I think a few of your players have tattoos. Sorry I had to break the news to you.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Teresa:

Ferguson got rid of his black stripe after this article was written so that's good. Alabama tried hard to steal him from us, but he has grandparents in East Tenn who are really big Vol fans. That would be good for them if he wins the job, which I think he will eventually. He won two state championships at one of the best schools in NC.

I'd like to know if he can run a little also. Butch did say he used his feet to get out of problems but I don't know if that meant just getting away from defenders long enough to throw the ball or truly running it. He's pretty skinny right now to be a true runner.

Georgia fan, I think a few of your players have tattoos. Sorry I had to break the news to you.

I could be wrong, but isn't Johnny Football smaller than Ferguson? He seems to do quite well at playing QB in the SEC. Good remarks, i wasn't aware of bama recruiting Ferguson, but his grandfather was a former Vol..GBO!!

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

I love the real, and fake, fans from Florida, Georgia, etc on here dissing Ferguson. I guess they don't realize he had offers from Bama, LSU, Michigan, Louisville and Clemson, and was being pretty heavily recruited by South Carolina and Georgia, among many others. I'm sure he would have gotten offers from them too if he hadn't committed to the Vols so early.

Navaloranges writes:

in response to DawgDayAfternoon:

With all that ink, someone should ask Butchie Boy whether he coaches him or reads him. You're right, and it won't matter who they start, none of them can play. The Dawgs will feast in Neyland as well against the Big Gray.

Oooo...Big Gray...How scary does that sound!

Hilarious, a FRAUD and Troll, who both CLAIM to "hate" Tennessee's fans, players, and coaches, post on a Tennessee site 24/7.

It's funny how you're oblivious to the fact that EVERYBODY who frequents this site knows who you really are. One, a 65 year old overweight former marine cook gator fan who has no life except the internet. Another, an old ex UT benchwarmer who always had to live in the shadow of his brother, that stabs UT in the back at every turn because the powers to be won't let him have a hand in the hiring process. Basically telling him he's not qualified, and never has been.

Soooo, one has an ax to grind, so he turns his back on the Big Orange family. Totally discusting. And another is a Nobody trying to live a relevant life through attention garnered from being a Troll.

Thank goodness more souls didn't turn out like these two life losers.

volfanz writes:

"synchronized softness"....Ha! I love Coach Jones!!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

I believe NCAA fb did away with the ST coaching position back when George Cafego was sent packing. Ironically UT hasn't had good ST since. Now, a position coach must also coach ST as a collateral duty. Hopefully, UT now has a coach that can effectively balance both and still do an adequate job.

That's right. I think that was a pretty stupid move on the part of the NCAA. Kicking and returning are integral parts of the game, every bit as important and almost as complex as offense and defense. Hard to find coaches for other positions who also have high-level expertise in the many phases of the kicking game. I had hoped for some real progress on special teams under CBJ, but I guess they will continue to be a burden instead of a weapon. I know the staff is as busy as they can be trying to recruit good offensive and defensive players, but I hope they are devoting some time and attention to finding some good kickers as well.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to johnlg00:

That's right. I think that was a pretty stupid move on the part of the NCAA. Kicking and returning are integral parts of the game, every bit as important and almost as complex as offense and defense. Hard to find coaches for other positions who also have high-level expertise in the many phases of the kicking game. I had hoped for some real progress on special teams under CBJ, but I guess they will continue to be a burden instead of a weapon. I know the staff is as busy as they can be trying to recruit good offensive and defensive players, but I hope they are devoting some time and attention to finding some good kickers as well.

I can't remember if CBJ had solid ST or not. I do remember seeing a very capable kicking game when Cincy played Vandy in the Liberty Bowl a couple of years back.

bUTch_please writes:

in response to volfanz:

"synchronized softness"....Ha! I love Coach Jones!!!!

I know, right?
Laughed all morning on that one.
Gotta love it.

SevenT writes:

Team leaders do not adorn themselves with vile tattoos.

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

in response to SevenT:

Team leaders do not adorn themselves with vile tattoos.

They do if they like'em.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to SevenT:

Team leaders do not adorn themselves with vile tattoos.

Who ever said you were a leader?? Was this for trailer park community watch?

Rock_E_Topp88 writes:

in response to Navaloranges:

Hilarious, a FRAUD and Troll, who both CLAIM to "hate" Tennessee's fans, players, and coaches, post on a Tennessee site 24/7.

It's funny how you're oblivious to the fact that EVERYBODY who frequents this site knows who you really are. One, a 65 year old overweight former marine cook gator fan who has no life except the internet. Another, an old ex UT benchwarmer who always had to live in the shadow of his brother, that stabs UT in the back at every turn because the powers to be won't let him have a hand in the hiring process. Basically telling him he's not qualified, and never has been.

Soooo, one has an ax to grind, so he turns his back on the Big Orange family. Totally discusting. And another is a Nobody trying to live a relevant life through attention garnered from being a Troll.

Thank goodness more souls didn't turn out like these two life losers.

Ziiiiiiing!!!! : )

Rock_E_Topp88 writes:

in response to SevenT:

Team leaders do not adorn themselves with vile tattoos.

Says the man with the mullet and 7 teeth.

Rumblefish writes:

"We're a long way from naming the starting quarterback"

Uhh....coach, the season starts in 2 weeks. It would be nice for the QB to have at least 2 weeks of solid/consistent reps with the first team.

But what do I know...

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to SevenT:

Team leaders do not adorn themselves with vile tattoos.

I guess that explains why your Wildcats basketball team sucked so much last year. No leaders. Too many tattoos.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

"We're a long way from naming the starting quarterback"

Uhh....coach, the season starts in 2 weeks. It would be nice for the QB to have at least 2 weeks of solid/consistent reps with the first team.

But what do I know...

Good point, but UT plays Austin Peay in 2 weeks, hardly a real test to KO the season. They actually can use the APSU game as an organized scrimmage.

jandjhome#228397 writes:

Don't count Dobbs out, look at his films, Toney Robinson traits.

SevenT writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

I guess that explains why your Wildcats basketball team sucked so much last year. No leaders. Too many tattoos.

You may be right

Vol43 writes:

in response to SevenT:

Team leaders do not adorn themselves with vile tattoos.

Hey chickenpoop, according to your own words you used to be a Vol fan, provided you were telling the truth <ahem>. So here's my question: If Coach Butch is successful this football season, are you gonna climb back on the Vol train?

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Good point, but UT plays Austin Peay in 2 weeks, hardly a real test to KO the season. They actually can use the APSU game as an organized scrimmage.

Scrimmage/Dress rehearsal take your pick and it will be interesting to see which QB's get in the game. Watched a lot of Rileys film and he has a talent for buying time by rolling out and throwing an absolute bullet.He also throws hard and accurate off his back foot when the defense is closing in..The Hilltoppers will definetly test our defense and aren't the pushover fans perceive. The RB could start for any SEC team. He was a dual threat QB:Mr Football in KY. He does it all!!! His all purpose yards stats are UNREAL. He came up just short of breaking Eric Dickerson's All purpose record that has gone totally unchallenged for 3 decades

SevenT writes:

in response to Vol43:

Hey chickenpoop, according to your own words you used to be a Vol fan, provided you were telling the truth <ahem>. So here's my question: If Coach Butch is successful this football season, are you gonna climb back on the Vol train?

Yes I am still sore about the Fulmer situation

Yes if Coach Jones can get it done I will be on board.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

in response to vol1994:

I know it is only practice but I do not understand why we are so bad on special teams. Palardy will supposedly have kickoff, punting, field goal, and PAT duties. We also have struggled on the return game over the yrs.

Hopefully this yr will be different as field position will be critical this season since our offense (mainly skilled positions) is so green. I can't figure out why UT has struggled in most areas of special teams. Thoughts?

Mainly because this team is basically horrible, with the exception of the OL. Our LB's are slow, other than AJ, our secondary is woefully lacking and our special teams is a work in process. We still have no depth and when you take off the orange glasses you will see we are still mediocre at best.

I love Butch Jones and what he is doing, but attitude and motivation will only take us so far. We have to have 2-3 years of solid recruiting.

Best guess is 5-7 or possibly 6-6. We play 5 of the top teams in the country and we have 3 toss up games. This sounds like a 6-6 best case unless some of the toss-ups have injuries.JMO

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Scrimmage/Dress rehearsal take your pick and it will be interesting to see which QB's get in the game. Watched a lot of Rileys film and he has a talent for buying time by rolling out and throwing an absolute bullet.He also throws hard and accurate off his back foot when the defense is closing in..The Hilltoppers will definetly test our defense and aren't the pushover fans perceive. The RB could start for any SEC team. He was a dual threat QB:Mr Football in KY. He does it all!!! His all purpose yards stats are UNREAL. He came up just short of breaking Eric Dickerson's All purpose record that has gone totally unchallenged for 3 decades

Yes sir, but WKU OL will not block UT up front. In fact, I've got UT winning that game by 3+ TD's probably more.

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