Tennessee Football: QB Race Still Wide Open After Spring Practice

By Matt Maddux
Justin Worley Tennessee QB Race
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Volunteers came into spring practice hoping to find a definitive starter at the quarterback position. Now that spring practices are over, Butch Jones and his Volunteers are still unsure who their starter will be come fall. Senior Justin Worley, redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson, sophomores Joshua Dobbs and Nathan Peterman all had the opportunity to separate themselves from the pack and become the starter, but it seems nobody was able to win over the coaches.

Worley would seem to be the clear choice, only because of his experience. He began the 2013 season as the starting quarterback, but did not impress. As a junior, he finished the season with 1,239 yards passing, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions in eight games.

Worley showed a glimpse of what he was capable of in the team’s near-upset over the Georgia Bulldogs and an upset over the South Carolina Gamecocks last season. If he hopes to win the starting role, he is going to have to work hard in the offseason.

Dobbs, who started four games in replace of Worley last season, had a good performance in the Volunteers’ spring game. He outperformed the other quarterbacks, finishing with 199 yards passing and three scores, and ran for 59 yards for another score. The fact that Dobbs is a dual-threat quarterback, who possesses a decent arm and has the ability to make plays with his legs, puts him ahead of the other three players. If I were Butch Jones, I would have Dobbs as the starter.

The Volunteers’ other sophomore quarterback, Peterman, also saw a little action last season, but put up terrible stats. Peterman saw action in four games, along with one start. He only completed 10 of his 23 passes for zero touchdowns and two interceptions. It’s hard to envision Peterman as the starting quarterback. There hasn’t been many people talking about him during the spring. I believe he will end up fourth on the depth chart.

The fourth quarterback in the heated battle is Ferguson. He was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school, which can only help his chance. The lack of game experience is the only thing that really hurts him. Ferguson had a good showing at the spring game. He finished the game with 83 yards passing and a touchdown. Coach Jones has nothing but great things to say about the young quarterback. Along with Worley, it seems Ferguson is in the best position to become the starter.

Jones and his staff have a tough decision to make. They hoped a starter would emerge by the end of spring, but that did not happen. Whomever works the hardest in the offseason and practice leading up to the season opener against Utah State, will likely win the competition. Volunteer fans shouldn’t expect an answer until then.

Matt Maddux is a SEC Football writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Maddux247 , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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