John Adams: Tennessee's quarterback competition no big deal if winner isn't big-time player

John Adams
University of Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley speaks to reporters during a media luncheon at the Stokely Family media center in Neyland Stadium, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel staff)$RETURN$$RETURN$

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

University of Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley speaks to reporters during a media luncheon at the Stokely Family media center in Neyland Stadium, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel staff)$RETURN$$RETURN$

Justin Worley and Butch Jones on Tennessee's QB comptetition

University of Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley speaks to reporters during a media luncheon at the Stokely Family media center in Neyland Stadium, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel staff)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

University of Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley speaks to reporters during a media luncheon at the Stokely Family media center in Neyland Stadium, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel staff)

Butch Jones doesn’t relish the prospect of a prolonged competition to determine his starting quarterback. The first-year Tennessee coach prefers sooner to later.

But “sooner” came and went in the spring. And neither quarterback kicked the other down the depth chart.

So Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman will begin preseason football practice Friday bracketed as Tennessee’s No. 1 quarterback.

Excuse fans if they aren’t atwitter over the competition. They’re probably more intrigued by the incoming quarterbacks than the returning ones.

And why not?

Worley started three games two years ago as a freshman but threw just 23 passes last season as a backup to Tyler Bray. He hasn’t overwhelmed fans with his physical skills.

Neither has Peterman, who didn’t wow anyone in the spring after being redshirted last fall.

Granted, the spring was hardly an ideal proving ground. Both quarterbacks had to learn a new offense while acclimating themselves to a receiving corps that is undistinguished and inexperienced.

A couple of freshmen are about to confront the same challenges. And they haven’t been excluded from the competition.

Jones was asked at Wednesday’s press luncheon if it was unrealistic to think a freshman — either Joshua Dobbs from Alpharetta, Ga., or Riley Ferguson from Matthews, N.C. — could win the starting job.

“It’s not unrealistic,” he said. “Is it difficult? Absolutely.”

It sounded more difficult when Jones listed his preferred traits in a quarterback.

Consistency and leadership, he said.

You don’t associate either attribute with a true freshman. However, there’s more to it.

As endearing as “consistency” and “leadership” might be to a coach, playmaking ability can sometimes trump both, especially in an offense seemingly lacking in big-play threats.

If either Dobbs or Ferguson has that capability, he shouldn’t hesitate to show it.

“Freshman quarterbacks will have limited reps starting off,” Jones said. “So every rep is critical.

“Do something to catch the coaches’ eyes.”

Do something to prove you’re a big-time quarterback.

Big-time quarterbacks change programs. And a change is long overdue for a UT program that has suffered through three consecutive seven-loss seasons.

Maybe Worley and Peterman are better than what they showed in the spring. If not, then UT can only hope that one of the two freshmen is talented enough to win the job.

They won’t have to win it right away. Jones proved last season he isn’t averse to changing quarterbacks during the season.

Cincinnati was 6-2 when Jones replaced Munchie Legaux with Brendan Kay. The Bearcats then won four of their last five games to finish 10-3.

“It just goes back to we’re going to play the player who gives us the best opportunity to win football games,” Jones said. “At that particular time, we felt that was the best decision.”

Tennessee fans now await Jones’ next quarterback decision.

But as newsworthy as the quarterback competition might be this preseason, it won’t mean much if the winner can’t make headlines this fall.

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.

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Comments » 55

keepitreal4vols writes:

Thanks

John

for

all

the

line

breaks.

volforeverandever writes:

Whoever Butch chooses I am cool with it.
Go Vols

underthehill writes:

Could be Dobbs before the year is out..

andrews#1389072 writes:

I am afraid this fall is going to be another season where I give season tickets away rather than fight the crowd for nothing. I am not sure Tennessee's situation can be fixed!

secondcreek writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

Thanks

John

for

all

the

line

breaks.

<br>

govols26 writes:

in response to andrews#1389072:

I am afraid this fall is going to be another season where I give season tickets away rather than fight the crowd for nothing. I am not sure Tennessee's situation can be fixed!

I'll gladly take them off your hands for ya if that's the case :-)

redskinvol1 writes:

The Artful Dobbser ?

ETownVol writes:

Was expecting more (extremely) negative drivel from JA. Was actually surprised to find a small amount of informative news.

vol1994 writes:

in response to govols26:

I'll gladly take them off your hands for ya if that's the case :-)

I think his point is the offense will struggle to move the ball and score points. If that occurs the stadium will be half filled vs the lower tier teams.

Like it or not, many people get tired of spending hundreds of dollars for travel, hotel costs, food, and concessions for a boring product. It is easy to spend $500 a weekend for one game, so many will decide to stay home and save their money.
It doesn't make them a bad fan, simple ecnomics and time mgmt.

tovolny writes:

Can you believe Adams actually gets paid for this. ESPN's documentary on the sports writers of the south has been put on hold. (...too controversial...). Fox is trying to buy it and modify it with professional actors. However, ESPN will probably keep it and dress it up a little and release it in December just before the bowl games. Adams and Climer come across like Barney and his one bullet. They point out how KNS and the Tennessean cut Fulmer out of the Picture, and how some of Kiffin's fiascos were over-exaggerated by ESPN itself. They have some stuff concerning the sportswriters and Petrino's motorcycle that probably isn't true, but it is hilarious, none the less. It is paced somewhat like Laugh In or Hee Haw. If ESPN has a lighting delayed game, this will probably be shown as a promotional for the actual production. Southerners will be offended, but this doesn't bother ESPN.

truthy writes:

it's no 'big deal' if s/he's 'a big-time player' or not.

it's. college. football. it's. a. game.

just think of the advantages conferred to the community if that field were converted to a community garden, not to mention allowing the university to return to its main mission of, dare we say it, education? and the payoff from the disappearance of those marauding hordes of drunks following home games...

please, jesus and smokey, make it so!!

claiborneh writes:

Going to be Dobbs before season is over

NowHearThis writes:

If Tennessee fans only could realize how idiotic they sound pinning their season hopes on a true freshman QB who backed out of his commitment to the football powerhouse Arizona State. It has really gotten to be a desperate situation around here.

But help is on the way, 7-5 should be attainable within a couple of years. Rejoice.

BolivrBob writes:

Dobbs has all the apparent tools tools for this new offense, but the more I read about Ferguson, he seems like the guy. Going to be interesting.

AlpharettaVol writes:

in response to tovolny:

Can you believe Adams actually gets paid for this. ESPN's documentary on the sports writers of the south has been put on hold. (...too controversial...). Fox is trying to buy it and modify it with professional actors. However, ESPN will probably keep it and dress it up a little and release it in December just before the bowl games. Adams and Climer come across like Barney and his one bullet. They point out how KNS and the Tennessean cut Fulmer out of the Picture, and how some of Kiffin's fiascos were over-exaggerated by ESPN itself. They have some stuff concerning the sportswriters and Petrino's motorcycle that probably isn't true, but it is hilarious, none the less. It is paced somewhat like Laugh In or Hee Haw. If ESPN has a lighting delayed game, this will probably be shown as a promotional for the actual production. Southerners will be offended, but this doesn't bother ESPN.

And you know this how?

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

It's already begun. Adams, like several idiot trolls here such as "Get over it" and ANOTHER version of "9 will be so fine" have jumped on the season early.

The rest of us know the likes of Adams, with his abundant negativity, as well as the assortment of trolls, are anxiously waiting to post anything and everything to run down the Vols.

The rest of us know the situation. IMO, the majority of Tennessee supporters realize it is going to take some time, based on the hand CBD
has been dealt. Some however, expect 12-0, 10-2 etc. Some go ballistic if that doesn't come to pass.

So, don't be overly concerned when trolls such as "now hear this" and his ilk ramble on with their inconsequential jabbering. They have no clout and we easily can identify a troll when we see them.

GerryOP writes:

Wow! Here it is the 1st day of the 1st month of Tennessee football for 2013 and we have a bunch of naysaying negaVol fans telling us how bad our footVols are going to be. What kind of life do these guys have who claim to be fans of a team they hate? Maybe they are trolls not fans. Maybe thay hate thier lives as much as they hate the Vols. Sad, really sad...

jandjhome#228397 writes:

Look at Dobbs film, reminds me of Toney Robinson

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

We have got JR's and SR's across the line on both sides of the ball and that does not happen often. Just hope that's not wasted on teaching a JR QB what he should already know. Worley or whoever has little or no time to hone skills in game situations. Oregon's fans are even more insane than Auburn fans. Not a good place for QB not fully in charge of his game

Colliervol writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

It's already begun. Adams, like several idiot trolls here such as "Get over it" and ANOTHER version of "9 will be so fine" have jumped on the season early.

The rest of us know the likes of Adams, with his abundant negativity, as well as the assortment of trolls, are anxiously waiting to post anything and everything to run down the Vols.

The rest of us know the situation. IMO, the majority of Tennessee supporters realize it is going to take some time, based on the hand CBD
has been dealt. Some however, expect 12-0, 10-2 etc. Some go ballistic if that doesn't come to pass.

So, don't be overly concerned when trolls such as "now hear this" and his ilk ramble on with their inconsequential jabbering. They have no clout and we easily can identify a troll when we see them.

Exactly OCV. I gave up wondering what Adams was going to write a long time ago. Perpetually negative. And the negavols who have their little agendas, well, they are always going to hang around. Their motto: "Let's dwell on the past and never give anybody a shot from the git-go." I write them off as either youngsters who don't have a clue what it takes to build a program, old has beens or never weres who are just bitter with life or, sadly, some of Phil's relatives/sycophants who can't move on. (Or KNS employees who get paid to boost the post count). Fortunately there are plenty of good Vol fans who understand this thing isn't going to recover overnight. Just like with Dooley, we'll have to give Butch time to see what he can do. Dooley couldn't do it. Time will tell about Butch. I gave up on predictions when the 2005 team fell apart after everybody picked us in the top 5. Just gonna sit back and watch and have a little patience. That's about all we can do.

DC82_Vol writes:

I remember this guy named Tyler Bray that didn't do so well at QB during the O&W game. Slung the ball around pretty good during the season. Problem with Bray was he had no discipline and leadership abilities.

GerryOP writes:

in response to NowHearThis:

If Tennessee fans only could realize how idiotic they sound pinning their season hopes on a true freshman QB who backed out of his commitment to the football powerhouse Arizona State. It has really gotten to be a desperate situation around here.

But help is on the way, 7-5 should be attainable within a couple of years. Rejoice.

Worley is not a freshman, he's a junior. Must you lie about everything?

tennlions writes:

The trolls just get on here to stir things up. Best not to feed them.

Now, on to UT football. Don't underestimate the value of competition. These QBs are going to be pushed this month to show their best and the clear winner is going to be the team. I like the fact that Jones isn't afraid to switch QBs if necessary.

strops writes:

The competition for the WORST sportswriter in Knoxville is no contest-----ADAMS by a mile!!!

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

in response to GET_OVER_IT_YOU_LOST:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Take a shot of geritol and go back to bed!

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

It's already begun. Adams, like several idiot trolls here such as "Get over it" and ANOTHER version of "9 will be so fine" have jumped on the season early.

The rest of us know the likes of Adams, with his abundant negativity, as well as the assortment of trolls, are anxiously waiting to post anything and everything to run down the Vols.

The rest of us know the situation. IMO, the majority of Tennessee supporters realize it is going to take some time, based on the hand CBD
has been dealt. Some however, expect 12-0, 10-2 etc. Some go ballistic if that doesn't come to pass.

So, don't be overly concerned when trolls such as "now hear this" and his ilk ramble on with their inconsequential jabbering. They have no clout and we easily can identify a troll when we see them.

I wonder why the troll zz gator aka 9willnothappen needs so many different user names. He is really obsessed with the Vols. Then you have GET_OVER_IT_YOU_LOST the former Crappy_Commodore GlennFord etc. Probable KNS employee

underthehill writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Worley is not a freshman, he's a junior. Must you lie about everything?

I think he was talking about Dobbs..who was going to Ariz State because they offered courses other schools did not..when UT satisfied this concern ..he then switched to UT..if you look at the offers he had ..it might indicate he is an exceptional athlete who could compete this year for the QB spot..and if Jones thinks he is the best option..I think he will play..if he don't think he is ready..I expect him to redshirt..

Ayres_Hall writes:

Justin Worley will be the QB and he will be better. CBJ is an offensive head coach who knows how to use his QB.

I expect us to balance a power run game with a short passing game which is what made Justin Worley the Gatorade National Player of the Year in high school.

Not saying we will be a good offense, but we will be more consistent (meaning the defense will get a rest now and then).

All of our QBs will be better.

MetroplexMojo writes:

Mojo's inspirational quote(s) of the day...

"People who can`t stand to see the success of others will never experience their own."

"People hate on sports message boards for one of three reasons. They hate themselves, they want to be you, or they see you as a threat."

rbwtn writes:

Impressive! the players are mature for their age which speaks a lot about the coaching staff. I think Worley will get his chance and he deserves it. He's intelligent wants it & all he has to do is learn It. I don't see this bunch throwing footballs at cars or partying out of hand because I guarantee you the Coach won't tolerate it. We're stoked and with you guys All The Way Go Big! Orange!

SevenT writes:

UT has the worst QB situation in the SEC. I am predicting another 4-8 season.

Just Saying

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

in response to SevenT:

UT has the worst QB situation in the SEC. I am predicting another 4-8 season.

Just Saying

Who cares what you predict. Seven Tongue Troll

wagee12 writes:

ole Johnny boy doing what he can to create a QB controversy even before the season starts. I heard your questions yesterday ole Johnny ole buddy. Quite clear who YOU think the QB should be. Thank goodness you have no clout with UT or the football staff. You want Dobbs, a player that wasn't even offered by either one of his in-state schools, Georgia or Georgia Tech. You and your cronies are pathetic.

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

in response to SevenT:

UT has the worst QB situation in the SEC. I am predicting another 4-8 season.

Just Saying

Who's Kentucky's quarterback ....I forget... I didn't forget, I just don't give a s***...

I predict another 4-8 years in your mama's basement, Pretty sad for a 30 something year old.... you can have your cigarette now

GoVols_16 writes:

Two words: Pike, Collaros...

They were both very effective under Jones. I like our chances w/ whoever takes the field. Yes, this is the SEC, but Jones, I believe, can coach & will get the most from his players.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to redskinvol1:

The Artful Dobbser ?

I like it! Dobbs would seem to have a little "Condredge" in him--smart, quick, versatile. It would be great if he just came in and set the house afire, but it is more likely to be some way into the season before he or Ferguson gets a real shot. Even then, it depends, IMHO, on an almost complete collapse, by poor performance or injury, of Worley and Peterman.

As to Adams' larger point, I don't necessarily agree that it takes a top-notch QB to have a top-notch team. Of course, we know all the examples of superstar QBs leading championship teams, but you could look at the top-20 in almost any given week in any year, and at least half of those ranked teams will have an "average" QB. We had at least a great thrower for a QB last year, and that only did us so much good. Peyton was one of the top 10 college QBs of all time, but it didn't translate into a championship for UT.

To make full use of a superstar QB, you have to have all the other pieces in place--good O-line, good receivers, adequate running game, suitable system, adequate defense, etc. If you DON'T have a superstar QB, you concentrate on strengthening all those other areas anyway. If you are good enough in them, then all you need is for the QB not to lose games for you. You may not win a championship that way, but you can finish in the top-20. Then you can have a better chance to recruit a superstar QB.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Worley is not a freshman, he's a junior. Must you lie about everything?

I think he was referring to Dobbs, not Worley. In any case, he took one or two posts which wondered if Dobbs or Ferguson might get the job and turned them in his feeble, fevered mind into a passionate love affair with a freshman QB. But of course, that is what trolls do for a living, pathetic as it is; it would even be worse if they WEREN'T doing it for a living! Talk about wasting your life!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

Justin Worley will be the QB and he will be better. CBJ is an offensive head coach who knows how to use his QB.

I expect us to balance a power run game with a short passing game which is what made Justin Worley the Gatorade National Player of the Year in high school.

Not saying we will be a good offense, but we will be more consistent (meaning the defense will get a rest now and then).

All of our QBs will be better.

Exactly. Last year's offense was explosive and entertaining at times, but so what? The team was lousy. Every team has to play to its strengths and stay away from its weaknesses. If the defense is better, the offense won't HAVE to try to score every time they get the ball. If the offense can grind clock as well as yards every time they get the ball, even if they don't score, they might not leave the defense on the field so much in poor field position. Improvement in any one phase of the game boosts improvement in every other phase. If one unit makes just a little progress in some key areas, it will drive the other units to improve, and the rate of improvement for the whole team will speed up.

antonio14313 writes:

not a bad article john adams. still your negative self, but with actual reporting information. AND a little optimism??? it's like, the old you mixed in with, let's say, bacon?? not bad. keep up the, um, good(??) work.

the vols will be better, and more competative than expected...

GO VOLS!

t

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to MetroplexMojo:

Mojo's inspirational quote(s) of the day...

"People who can`t stand to see the success of others will never experience their own."

"People hate on sports message boards for one of three reasons. They hate themselves, they want to be you, or they see you as a threat."

So true, Mojo..

antonio14313 writes:

coach may be listing two #1 quarterbacks, but there's really only 1 #1. the guy that goes out there and takes that very first snap in practice, THAT'S your leader for the #1 spot. the 2 QBs might alternate snaps with the first team, but that first rep tells all. and i expect that first snap to go to the QB with the most experience; worley. and, don't be surprised if he wins the job outright, AND holds off the other quarterbacks for the entire season. and one of the true freshman QBs will redshirt this year (probably ferguson, since dobbs seems to be the QB more ready for coach's system).

praying for no injuries!...

go vols.

t

bUTch_please writes:

This season is not going to be driven offensively by a high-wire artist behind center. No matter who steps up. Not one on the roster. Not Coach Jones' style. End of discussion.

But to the amazement of most, we will have a much more effective offense that is more suited to win games. Whoever the QB is, he WILL be focused on getting the team into the right play as determined by Bajakian and Jones.
OR HE WILL SIT. Just that will be good for 3 or 4 drives continued each game.

Does Justin have that tight-roped 45 yard spiral that Bray had? Nope. But his wobbly, slow motion ball will be tossed to tight 5 to 8 yard routes. All day long. Most of the heavy lifting this year will be courtesy of the best OL in the SEC and a strong Neil/Lane combo grinding out the yardage. All day long.

The receivers are young, wet behind the ears and unproven. Croom will show up big first. Pig will be right behind, not flashy, just steady. Devrin will eat up open yards in a flash. Headliners? Nope. Will work for Bajakian and Jones? Yep. All day long.

The team isn't worried about it, they are focised on the process. I'm not worried either...and it feels great.

Go Team #117!

volfanlostnbama writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

Thanks

John

for

all

the

line

breaks.

ROFL...now that is a good one, got him pegged!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to bUTch_please:

This season is not going to be driven offensively by a high-wire artist behind center. No matter who steps up. Not one on the roster. Not Coach Jones' style. End of discussion.

But to the amazement of most, we will have a much more effective offense that is more suited to win games. Whoever the QB is, he WILL be focused on getting the team into the right play as determined by Bajakian and Jones.
OR HE WILL SIT. Just that will be good for 3 or 4 drives continued each game.

Does Justin have that tight-roped 45 yard spiral that Bray had? Nope. But his wobbly, slow motion ball will be tossed to tight 5 to 8 yard routes. All day long. Most of the heavy lifting this year will be courtesy of the best OL in the SEC and a strong Neil/Lane combo grinding out the yardage. All day long.

The receivers are young, wet behind the ears and unproven. Croom will show up big first. Pig will be right behind, not flashy, just steady. Devrin will eat up open yards in a flash. Headliners? Nope. Will work for Bajakian and Jones? Yep. All day long.

The team isn't worried about it, they are focised on the process. I'm not worried either...and it feels great.

Go Team #117!

I'm sure you are exaggerating the differences between Bray and Worley for effect, but I really don't think Worley has that weak of an arm. If we have receivers who can get open deep, I'll bet Worley can get it to them. He may not be able to throw the deep out pattern the way Bray did, but I bet he'll be smarter about checking down through all his receivers. He also won't feel the same compulsion Bray seemed to have to show everybody how strong his arm was on every play. Even if you have the best fastball in baseball, if you don't have a curve or changeup to throw once in awhile, guys can just look for a pitch they like, and they WILL hit you. Bray was sometimes like a golfer who hits the biggest drive he can manage on every hole, par 3s and par 5s alike. Not only did Bray "lose" a lot of balls that way, he had no short game.

bUTch_please writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I'm sure you are exaggerating the differences between Bray and Worley for effect, but I really don't think Worley has that weak of an arm. If we have receivers who can get open deep, I'll bet Worley can get it to them. He may not be able to throw the deep out pattern the way Bray did, but I bet he'll be smarter about checking down through all his receivers. He also won't feel the same compulsion Bray seemed to have to show everybody how strong his arm was on every play. Even if you have the best fastball in baseball, if you don't have a curve or changeup to throw once in awhile, guys can just look for a pitch they like, and they WILL hit you. Bray was sometimes like a golfer who hits the biggest drive he can manage on every hole, par 3s and par 5s alike. Not only did Bray "lose" a lot of balls that way, he had no short game.

Well..have to say everyone, myself included, who has every seen Bray work his magic has been hypnotized by the sheer perfection of placement, speed and laser-like flight that cat can toss on a pigskin. Record setting, right? But...refused to check down to a run, rarely came off his primary no matter how long the route took to develop and blindly forced into double or triple without hesitation. In keeping with your analogy, the difference between Bray and Daly is at least Daly won a major.

Watch the ball when Justin throws. It's got more wobble than Erik Ainge after wedding with open bar. But...it's all the aspects that we missed last year that will improve the offense leaps and bounds this year. Better reads. Better checkdowns. Fewer forces into coverage. No hissy-fits when Barjakian calls a running play on 3rd and 4. Ownership of mistakes in the huddle. Passes based on coverage instead of the buddy system.

Justin will be just what Coach Jones is looking for. Systematic, careful and stays within the coached guidelines. Of course he can throw the deep 45 yard completion....Croom will just run the route twice while he waits for it to drop.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Correction to my earlier post...........of course it's CBJ, ( not CBD ). Have to stay away from those intials !

By the way ( BTW ) tickets arrived in the mail today.

It's surely "Football time in Tenn ah seeeeeee."

lstbodeanvol writes:

maybe Knoxville sports writers are not big time journalism
GO VOLS !!!! GO COACH JONES !!!!!

bUTch_please writes:

in response to lstbodeanvol:

maybe Knoxville sports writers are not big time journalism
GO VOLS !!!! GO COACH JONES !!!!!

+100.

MetroplexMojo writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

So true, Mojo..

Actually, when paraphrasing the second quote, I forgot the 4th reason...they are paid to hate to drive up the hit count on the website.

On an unrelated topic, I get to send the better part of a weekend in Jackson in a couple of weeks. I'm sure I'll get my fill of greasy veggies, veggie soup and griddle cornbread from Casey Jones Village.

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