The Tennessee Volunteers were crushed by the Oregon Ducks in a 59-14 loss that revealed how poor the Volunteers’ offense really is. With Head Coach Butch Jones recently stating that he would open up the quarterback competition, Justin Worley’s time at starting quarterback may be coming to an end.
But benching Worley for Nathan Peterman would be a huge mistake.
Worley is in his first year of starting full time for the Volunteers and is having a dreadful time with accuracy. Tennessee is a run first offense, but without a deep passing threat the run game can become stifled fairly early on. It doesn’t matter that the Vols have the best offensive line in the country; a one dimensional team isn’t going to go very far in the SEC.
However, I think that Worley’s struggles have more to do with his time at Tennessee than with him and his ability at quarterback. When he arrived at Tennessee, he was expected to be a long term backup for Tyler Bray and come into the squad with a lot more knowledge of the Volunteer offense.
Ex-Tennessee Head Coach Derek Dooley, now with the Dallas Cowboys, really didn’t give Worley an opportunity to gain any playing experience or develop into a top college quarterback. When Worley did come into play it was either because the Volunteers were being blown out or Bray was hurt. He had to come into games with huge pressure on him and be expected to succeed, rather than be worked slowly into the Volunteer offensive scheme.
Jones’ decision to open up the quarterback competition has more to do with trying to focus Worley on becoming more accurate than actually benching him. Don’t forget – Worley is still 2-1 in his first season as a main starter on a mediocre Tennessee offense. Jones should give backup quarterback Peterman more snaps but still stick with Worley as starter.
With all of the incoming top freshmen talent in 2014, having a veteran senior quarterback like Worley leading the team would do wonders to help the young Volunteers get into SEC East contention very early on. Jones needs to stick with Worley, because the only thing missing from Worley’s game seems to be a good tight end and confidence.