Justin Worley enters the 2013 football season as the Tennessee Volunteers‘ most experienced quarterback on the depth chart. Despite limited opportunities to start while sitting behind Tyler Bray, Worley has played against some of the SEC‘s top defenses.
Though he has struggled, there are many factors UT fans should consider before completely writing off the junior quarterback.
The majority of Worley’s playing time came before the Tennessee offensive line truly reached their full potential. Worley also had the unfortunate duties of playing top SEC defenses as a freshman. With the exception of the Vols’ 2011 homecoming game, Worley’s playing time during his freshman season came against South Carolina and Arkansas, both of whom finished in the BCS top 10.
To his credit, Worley was the 2010 Gatorade high school player of the year during his senior season. However, the knock on Worley by many scouts was that he is too much of a system quarterback.
The biggest threat to Worley’s chances of starting is the new Tennessee offense. Coach Butch Jones and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian will use the same offense they ran at Cincinnati.
If Worley is best suited in the Vols’ previous air-raid passing attack, he will likely be overlooked in Bajakian’s fast-paced offense which has been best suited for mobile quarterbacks.
Worley will likely have an opportunity competing with a depth chart that has a combined zero minutes of total playing time otherwise. The only other quarterback that was enrolled at Tennessee last season is redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman.
The debate on the quarterback position is whether Worley’s previous experience outweighs Peterman, Riley Ferguson and Joshua Dobbs‘ abilities to scramble. However, Worley will at least be given the nod entering the season and the job will be his to lose.
Worley has sat patiently and must prove to the Tennessee coaches that he is their guy immediately. However, there will likely be a short leash and he must provide answers and silence the doubt.