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Tennessee QB Situation Up In The Air With Missouri On Deck (Updated)

josh-dobbs-playingTennessee’s incredible gauntlet of ranked foes isn’t getting much easier this week as the Vols head to Missouri to face a Tiger team still smarting from its first loss of the season.  Making matters worse for UT is the fact that starting quarterback Justin Worley re-injured the thumb on his throwing hand in Saturday’s 45-10 loss at Alabama.

With Worley injured, the Vols had to burn the redshirt of true freshman Josh Dobbs, a player who lacks Worley’s experience but surpasses the junior in skills.  This week’s quarterback battle at practice appears to be up in the air.  Well, sort of.

While Butch Jones will likely try to keep Missouri guessing throughout the week — Worley was still listed as the #1 quarterback yesterday — the odds seem to favor Dobbs at this point.  First, he’s healthy.  Worley is less than 100% with the thumb injury.  Nathan Peterman has just had the cast removed from his own hand injury suffered in his nightmare start at Florida.  Dobbs’ fellow freshman, Riley Ferguson, is in a walking boot.  Toss in the fact that Worley tweeted and then deleted a message saying “Everything happens for a reason,” and it would appear that Dobbs will play quite a bit on Saturday, if not start.

Just listen to Jones comments about Dobbs’ and his performance at Alabama (in which he led UT to 10 second-half point, no small feat against the Tide):


“He was poised.  He was calm.  He was disciplined.  He had a command about himself…

He’s a 4.0 student.  I think he’s got a photographic memory.  You’re either a fountain or a drain, you know?  Every day he’s a fountain…

You would never know that he played on Saturday.  He is the same Josh Dobbs that we see each day.  I take great comfort in being around players like that.”


In addition to having a stronger arm, Dobbs brings a running threat to the quarterback position, something that has been missing from Tennessee’s zone read offense.

In other injury news, Jones suggested that defensive backs Brian Randolph and Byron Moore — both injured against Alabama — should be healthy enough to play on Saturday.


Update: According to Knoxville sportscaster Jimmy Hyams, Dobbs will start at Missouri Saturday.  Justin Worley is out four weeks with torn ligaments.


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Worley To Land Tennessee Starting QB Job

justin-worley-playingIn a move that shouldn’t surprise anyone, Tennessee is set to name junior Justin Worley as its new starting quarterback.  Worley is the only one of four competitors for the job with actual game experience.

The Volunteers open the season against Austin Peay on Saturday.

The bigger question for UT at this point is who’ll be redshirted at that quarterback position.  Nathan Peterman is already a redshirt freshman.  He and Worley have been battling true freshmen Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson.  If all three of those QBs see the field this year (in addition to Worley), Tennessee will have three sophomores in the pipeline next year.  So it’s likely one of the two true freshman — Dobbs or Ferguson — will be redshirted in order to create some separation between the Vols’ signal-callers.


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Tennessee To Name A Starting QB Next Week

4 qb silhouetteOf the 14 football squads in the Southeastern Conference, only one has not named its starting quarterback yet.  That will change soon.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones told a Vol booster group last night that he intends to name his starter for UT’s opener against Austin Peay early next week.  He plans to use a practice today and a mock game/scrimmage tomorrow to decide the race.  According to Jones:


“I tell you what, competition is the greatest motivating force.  It’s extremely healthy…

The competition has really elevated the play of all four individuals.”


It is expected that junior Justin Worley — the only QB on Tennessee’s roster with game experience — will win the job.  Three freshmen are challenging him — Nathan Peterman (redshirt), Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson.

For his career, Worley is 63-of-110 (57.2%) for 738 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions.


UPDATE – John Clay of The Lexington Herald Leader has pointed out to us on Twitter that while Kentucky did announce who would play in its opener, the quarterback who will start the game and take the very first snap of the season has not been announced.  So allow us to rephrase our opening paragraph: There are 13 schools that have announced who will play in their openers and Tennessee intends to do the same early next week.

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SEC Headlines – 11/2/11 Part Two

1.  Tennessee coaches like Justin Worley’s ability to throw the deep ball.

2.  Injured Vol linebacker Herman Lathers is back at practice, but he’s still not ready to play.

3.  Vanderbilt’s trick-play offense is no joke.

4.  Kevin Stallings will be leaning on this three point guards early this basketball season.

5.  Two Auburn basketball players have been indefinitely suspended due to violations of team rules.

6.  But the Tigers still won their exhibition opener last night.

7.  Tight end Chris Gragg is becoming a bigger part of Arkansas’ offense.

8.  This writer hopes Arkansas can replace South Carolina with Missouri on its schedule.  (We still think Mizzou is likely to ask for Texas A&M as its permanent rival for recruiting reasons.)

9.  Ole Miss might put two true freshmen into its defensive line-up on Saturday.

10.  A win over Kentucky wouldn’t cure all that ails in Oxford, but it would sure alleviate some pain in the short run.

11.  How’s this for a stat: MSU is averaging 204 passing yards per game… and that’s the best average for the Bulldogs in eight seasons.  (State fan: “What is this forward pass concept, of which you speak?”)

12.  Still, Dan Mullen says Tyler Russell has no advantage in the battle for the Bulldogs’ starting spot in 2012.

13.  Nick Bell — the Mississippi State player who passed away last fall — has not been forgotten in Starkville.

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SEC Headlines – 10/27/11 Part One

I’m afraid today’s going to be a rushed day with lots of headlines.  Projects away from the site are eating into my time today.  My apologies.

1.  Florida’s defense needs to create more takeaways.

2.  Will Muschamp allowed two players to walk away from his program earlier this week.

3.  Gator defensive lineman Dominique Easley is in hot water after getting into a scuffle with former Alabama player Reggie Myles outside the stadium following the teams’ game this year.

4.  The Florida-Georgia rivalry has had its share of unsportsmanlike acts in recent years… but it was “The Stomp” in 2007 that rekindled the rivalry.

5.  Here are five keys to a Bulldog victory on Saturday.

6.  Georgia wideout Malcolm Mitchell is now “doubtful” for this weekend’s game.

7.  They’re already covering basketball scrimmages in Lexington.  Terrence Jones scored 52 with 16 rebounds last night.

8.  The Cats also have a football game this weekend, and it would help their cause if tailback CoShik Williams could rush for another 148 yards this week.

9.  South Carolina’s Bruce Ellington is questionable for Saturday with a hamstring injury.

10.  Steve Spurrier said earlier this week that Ellington — a receiver — might back up Connor Shaw… showing once again that the coach no longs has his old touch with quarterbacks.

11.  Tennessee receiver Da’Rick Rogers — who showed up quarterback Matt Simms with some serious head-shaking following an incompletion last week — is happy to have the “gunslinger” Justin Worley under center.

12.  Vol coaches want to get more out of defensive end Jacques Smith.

13.  James Franklin isn’t interested in talking about Vanderbilt’s bowl chances just yet.

14.  The Commodores are bracing for Arkansas’ passing game.

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SEC Headlines – 10/26/11 Part Two

1.  Some Florida players still hold a grudge from Georgia’s unsportsmanlike touchdown celebration way back in 2007.

2.  The Gators know how much this game means as they try to improve upon UF’s 18-3 mark against UGA since 1990.

3.  This writer says the Dawgs will have to be calm to tame the Gators.

4.  Rather than put all the focus on Florida, Mark Richt continues to talk to his team about winning the SEC East.

5.  Receiver Malcolm Mitchell suffered a setback in practice and may miss Saturday’s game due to a hamstring injury.

6.  When the hometown team is as bad as Kentucky, it’s no wonder the media continues to buzz about the school’s new black uniforms…

7.  And it’s basketball team.  John Calipari says Terrence Jones is more focused this season.

8.  South Carolina held a players-only, team meeting on Monday to remind themselves that an East Division title can be won with victories of Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida over the next three weeks.

9.  In discussing Justin Worley — the Carolina native who’ll start at QB for the Vols on Saturday — Steve Spurrier makes it sound like he has no idea who his program recruits.

10.  The Volunteers have got to overcome their second-half woes.

11.  They’ll have a chance to do that against a team that’s still recovering mentally from the loss of Marcus Lattimore.

12.   Tailback Zac Stacy could be Vanderbilt’s first 1,000-yard rusher in 16 years.

13.  Arkansas’ players have noticed Vandy’s “improved and energetic play.”

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SEC Headlines – 10/25/11 Part Two

1.  This writer thinks there might be something fishy about Will Muschamp’s announcement that quarterback John Brantley is probable for Saturday’s game.

2.  Florida’s coach says his whole team is healthier following last weekend’s bye.

3.  Georgia’s defense is thisclose to being at full strength.

4.  Mark Richt says Florida and UGA might have different records if you flipped their schedules.

5.  Kentucky and MSU will both be desperate for a win this weekend.

6.  Here’s more on those black Kentucky uniforms.

7.  South Carolina coaches are reminding Jadeveon Clowney that new Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley beat him in high school.

8.  Here’s a midseason report card on the Gamecocks.

9.  Tennessee continues to shuffle its secondary from game to game.

10.  Former Alabama coach Gene Stallings says the Vols are heading in the right direction.

11.  New Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers wants to rely on his arm, not his legs.

12.  James Franklin knows one area where his team has an advantage on Arkansas – turnover ratio.

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Worley To Start For UT Against USC

Derek Dooley has apparently figured out what to do with true freshman quarterback Justin Worley.  Two days after burning his redshirt in the final minutes of a lopsided loss to Alabama, UT’s coach has named Worley as the Vols’ starter heading into Saturday’s game with South Carolina.

“We’re not throwing and catching the way we need to and we’re not calling the game the way we want to.  We just need to make this move.

It’s not something that’s done on a whim.  We have a lot of data to make a switch.  We don’t have a lot of data on Justin…

I don’t know what it’s going to look like on Saturday.”

In other words, Dooley has seen enough to know that — in his opinion — anybody is better that Matt Simms.  Simms was forced to face the defenses of LSU and Alabama when starter Tyler Bray broke his thumb against Georgia earlier this month.

Though Worley got into Tennessee’s game with Alabama, he did not attempt a pass.  So the first pass he’ll throw at the college level will come with Jadeveon Clowney and Melvin Ingram breathing down his neck.

As a team, South Carolina has 14 sacks on the season.  Ingram has 5.5 and Clowney has 4.0.  Thanks in part to that pass rush, the Gamecocks are allowing just 133.7 yards per game through the air… the best mark in the SEC.  Better than Alabama.  Better than LSU.

That’s not an ideal situation for a young QB, but it’s the one Worley will face.  Ironically, the true freshman from Rock Hill, South Carolina was not offered a scholarship by Steve Spurrier and his homestate Gamecocks.  So maybe he’ll have some added motivation on Saturday night that will help counterbalance his inexperience.

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SEC Headlines – 10/24/11 Part One

1.  The SEC has named its Players of the Week.

2.  Florida should be a lot healthier as it prepares for it’s battle with Georgia.

3.  Will Muschamp expects John Brantley to practice today and to play on Saturday.

4.  Georgia will counter with the return of safety-turned-linebacker Alec Ogletree.

5.  For Mark Richt, ending a three-game losing streak to the Gators is of major importance.

6.  Another man’s down in Lexington — UK running back Raymond Sanders will likely miss the Cats’ game with Mississippi State due to a high ankle sprain.

7.  Kentucky fans stayed away from Saturday’s game with Jacksonville State in droves.  (Photo included.  Just brutal.)

8.  South Carolina and Georgia appear — for now — to be locked in a two-team race for the East Division title.

9.  Steve Spurrier now says he’ll speak with the media even if writer Ron Morris is present.  (This will lead many to say that his harangue against Morris was clearly meant to be a smokescreen for the Stephen Garcia dismissal, but it could be that school president Harris Pastides intervened.)

10.  A day after burning quarterback Justin Worley’s redshirt in a 31-point loss to Alabama, Tennessee’s Derek Dooley says he has no idea how he’ll use the freshman from here out.  (Dooley seems to have a little Spurrier in him when it comes to making emotional in-game decisions.)

11.  A check of the messageboards showed this writer Vol fans’ patience is wearing thin.

12.  Vanderbilt tallied 530 yards (344 on the ground) to beat Army and snap a three-game losing streak on Saturday.

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