QB Worley Gets Vols' Starting Nod For Opener Against Austin Peay

Junior "Honored" To Get The Job Jones Says Decided On Steady Progress

Monday, August 26, 2013 - by Special to Chattanoogan.com

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Justin Worley, the only player among four competing for the No. 1 quarterback job at Tennessee who has actual game experience, will start for the Vols against Austin Peay in the season opener Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

 

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. The game will be televised on pay-per-view.

"Just knowing officially that I'm the starter is a sense of relief and it's an honor and privilege to play quarterback here," said the junior quarterback after beating out redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman and true freshmen Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs.

Head coach Butch Jones announced the decision at Monday's press conference, but met individually with each of his quarterbacks on Sunday night.

"We just thought Justin was a little bit ahead of the other three individuals," said Jones. "I told them everything is judged by your productivity and so we'll continue to really look at that position and not just that position but every position on our football team."

Worley will take over full time after appearing in five games in 2012 as the team's backup quarterback. He tallied 15 total completions for 134 yards in 2012 while playing behind former Vol, Tyler Bray.

Jones maintained that they would continue to evaluate the quarterback position throughout the season and didn't rule out the possibility of seeing multiple quarterback sets.

Still, he praised Worley for his ability to look forward and steadily progress. "Any great competitor you don't ever look back behind you," said Jones. "You keep looking forward and continue to progress and get better and better. Justin is extremely competitive. We don't want to create a scenario where they're always looking behind them. But that's the world that we live in. That's football. That's competition."

After a productive spring, summer and fall camp, Jones said that Worley's overall body of work, including the game experience he was exposed to the past two seasons, played into his ultimate decision.

Worley will look to spearhead an offense that lost top receivers in Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. With so much attrition, the Vols will have to rely on several freshmen and walk-on players to fill the offensive void.

But according to Jones, it is ultimately Worley's role as the "alpha male" that will make the difference.

"He's progressing," said Jones about Worley's presence as a team leader. "He's still a work in progress. He still has some improvement to go just like everyone on our football team is really learning leadership. It's like I told Justin yesterday, it's one thing to lead when things are going great. The mark of a great quarterback is leading your team to victory in the one minute drill on the road. Having that poise and confidence it takes to manage an entire offense."

Regardless of who is under center on Saturday, the offensive line isn't worried about the man behind them.

"It really doesn't matter to us as offensive lineman," said offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James. "Our job is to rush the ball and protect the quarterback so whoever is behind us we're going to block for them."

Worley will helm Jones' inaugural offense for now and with an experienced offensive line in front of him, he feels comfortable taking on Austin Peay.

"I have the upmost faith in the offensive line and our running backs in protection as well as running the football," said Worley. "Knowing that those guys have the game experience that they do, it gives me some confidence going into the game."

Junior Offensive Lineman Antonio Richardson

 

(On how eager he is to get the season started)
"We're very eager. A lot of young players, we're just really ready to get out there and show them what we can do. We're not going to take any opponent lightly. Austin Peay, whoever it may be, we're just going to go out there with aspirations of winning and see what we can do to win some."

 

(On if he liked what he saw from the team in camp)
"I did. I felt like every day we came out to work. The player staff, we promised coach that we'd have no bad practices and I felt like we kept our promise. So, I felt pretty confident coming out of camp."

 

(On Coach Jones not wanting them to be emotional players)
"The biggest thing to coach, he said, "I don't want you playing with emotion, but I want you playing with passion." Basically he's saying he wants us to be consistent. He thinks that emotional teams are up and down up and down, so he just wants a team that's like a McDonald's team like he would say. A team that's going to be consistent."

 

(On what makes him confident that Marquez North and Cameron Sutton can come in and contribute right away)
"Just their maturity overall. They come in every day to work. Especially, me I get to see Marquez (North) every day. So, seeing his worker's mentality come in every day, getting in the film room, that's looking good."

 

(On if the offensive line set a goal of how many yards rushing they will get this season)
"We really haven't. We really just said that we're going to go out there and do our best. We feel like we've got some talented running backs. We're just going to go out there and do our job and let the stats take care of themselves."

 

(On how Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane have progressed)
"I feel like they've progressed really well. Rajion, going to the sixth game of the season, he was like the leading rusher in the SEC before he hurt himself. So, I am really confident with him back there. He's matured a lot especially."

 

(On difference between freshman quarterbacks)
"Riley Ferguson has gotten some reps with the ones a few times. He is really loud and commanding in the huddle. That is the thing that he has improved on the most."

(On what you are looking forward to most)


"I think we are just looking forward to winning. The biggest thing is that we haven't won much in the past few years, and it is a new era now. We have been focusing on our effort. That is what you will see a lot more out of this team this year is effort."

 

(On what you now about Austin Peay)
"We know they have a new coaching staff, and we have been watching film of them from last year, but we know we are going to be ready for whatever. We know their base front is a "BEAR," and they extend to a "BEAR" front a lot. We don't know what to expect, but we will be ready."

 

Senior Offensive Lineman Ja'Wuan James

 

(On if they were surprised that Justin Worley was named the starter)
"It really doesn't matter to us. As offensive linemen our job is to rush the ball and protect the quarterback. So, whoever's behind us, we're going to block for them."

 

(On if he saw that Worley stood out and carried himself as a starter)
"No, it's pretty close between everybody. Everybody's bringing different things to the table quarterback wise, but like I said, whoever's back there this year, they're going to be protected."

 

(On if they have helped Worley become more vocal)
"Yeah because he's back there trying to call the plays and stuff like that. So, he's just got to say it a little louder because coach is playing all the baby noises and stuff like that on the speakers and we're going to be out there in front of 100,000 so he's just got to speak a little louder."

 

(On what makes them confident that Marquez North and Cameron Sutton can come in and contribute right away)

"I'd say the same thing about Marquez (North). You can tell the difference in his maturity level and some of the other freshmen. That's why their giving him this opportunity and we need him to step up right now. He's done a good job asking question if he needs something and just really buying in."

 

(On if the offensive line set a goal of how many yards rushing they will get this season)
"The only goals we really set are, we have three of them: to play tough, to play smart, and then to play physical. Those are our three goals and Coach Mo (Mahoney) said anything else, we take care of that."

 

(On how Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane have progressed)
"Yeah and Marlin as well. Marlin's been doing a lot better and Rajion, but I feel like we've got a group of guys behind us that are going to do well this season. So, it's up to us to make sure they do well."

 

(On going from one of the worst to best offensive line in the conference)
"It feels like yesterday, which you know, that's what we learn from. I feel like that's why we're here right now where we are because everyone in our room just constantly works. We never get too down on ourselves. We never get too high either. We just come to work every day and we listen to our coaches and take everything they have to say."

 

(On being a senior)
"I'm definitely proud of everybody in the room: Zach Fulton, James Stone, Tiny, myself, and even the younger guys. I'm proud of everybody that stuck through it and kept working. We were trying to reach goals, and we were able to reach them."

 

(On looking back at first game of career)
"It was crazy. I remember running through the T. I felt kind of lost just looking up at the fireworks and stuff like that. I was a nervous wreck. It was against UT Martin, but I was good after the first play."

 

(On advice for freshman)
"I am excited for them. I know I was nervous back then, but at the same time I was excited. I had guys like Chris Walker and Nick Reveiz that inspired me to go out there and play confident. I have talked to several of them saying go out there and play confident and prepare. If you prepare well, you can go out there and be confident."

 

(On confidence in being able to run the ball)
"I feel confident, and the type of formations that we are running, if they have nine in the box, we are going to hit somebody with a bubble, or we are going to spread them out. If there is nine in the box, then it is our job to get that nine in the box. I feel confident in all five guys and tight ends can do it."

 

(On advice to Justin Worley being the alpha male in the huddle)
"He is a junior now so it is his job to be that alpha male now. Like you said, I was soft spoken. I was just listening to the leaders and things like that, but he need to be more of a leader, and he has done that more this summer and at camp. He has done a better job of being more vocal and taking control of the offense."

 

(On needing quarterback leadership)
"It gives us confidence because we have confidence in him now. You see him getting confidence in himself out there playing. He is starting to play with a little bit of swag, and he is feeling himself."

 

(On difference between freshman quarterbacks)
"Riley has a great arm, and he takes control. I told him that reminded me of Tyler Bray as a freshman. Joshua Dobbs as well, he is a smart kid, and he knows the offense, and he has a great arm. Every time he is in the game, Coach Jones says its live. He will scramble n the pocket, and he is pretty fast."

 

(On what you are looking forward to most)
"I am definitely looking forward to winning as well. Also a line, just dominating and taking control of the line of scrimmage. We have five guys that are ready to go do that game in and game out."

 

(On what you now about Austin Peay)
"They are excited. They are coming in here and playing in front of 100,000. They have a new coaching staff so I know they are excited. We have to be ready."

 

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)

 



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