KNOXVILLE — Zach Rogers and the rest of Tennessee's receiving corps spent most of the summer working their timing with the quarterbacks.
That was when Tyler Bray was healthy and starting and Justin Worley was third string, though.
With Worley set to start Saturday night's Southeastern Conference game against 14th-ranked South Carolina in Knoxville, the Volunteers have just a week to improve what sometimes takes an entire summer to master.
"Every quarterback is different," Rogers said after practice Tuesday morning. "The ball comes out of his hand a little different, arm to shoulder, all that stuff. I think that's what practice is for. [Worley's] been throwing to us all year, regardless, so we had a little bit of work with him, and it's got to continue."
After Sunday's closed workout, Tuesday was Worley's first set of practice reps as the starter that were open to the media. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound freshman one-hopped an 8-yard in route to freshman receiver DeAnthony Arnett with his first throw of the Vols' hurry-up period against air, but after that he threw the ball better.
"He did really well," coach Derek Dooley said. "He did what he's done the last couple of weeks. He's been a different guy ever since Tyler went down. Just mentally, you can tell, he's into it.
"There was no difference there, which was good. He's throwing the ball well, which is good. He's managing the plays well, running the offense. He's just got to prepare well this week and go out and do the best he can."
The rest of UT's offense has to help Worley on Saturday against a Gamecocks defense that's second in the SEC in pass-efficiency defense and third in sacks. Da'Rick Rogers, who hasn't met with the media since the week before the Georgia game though he continues to practice well, is the only UT wide receiver to catch a pass the last two weeks with Matt Simms at quarterback.
Tight end Mychal Rivera had just one catch in that span, and hybrid receiver/tailback Rajion Neal had a grab in each game. Arnett, Zach Rogers and freshman Vincent Dallas have been quiet.
"You've got three guys brand new at a position," Dooley said. "Rajion, De'Anthony and Vincent are brand new. Zach, I don't know. He's not playing with much confidence."
Worley will throw his first collegiate pass against a secondary with talent and speed, so the other Vols will have to help him.
"You've just got to get used to [the timing] and we've got to deal with it," Rivera said. "No matter who's the quarterback, we've got to deal with it. They've got to go through their progressions, I have to run my routes correctly and we just have to execute it."
Dooley admitted Monday he doesn't have much data on Worley, so South Carolina certainly doesn't have much to go on, either. At the Gamecocks' weekly media day, coach Steve Spurrier said he knows Worley, a South Carolina native, was the national Gatorade player of the year who led his Rock Hill Northwestern High School team to a state title.
"He's a very talented young man," Spurrier said. "I don't know a lot about him, to tell the truth. They won every close game they were in. His team beat [South Carolina freshman defensive end] Jadeveon Clowney's team a year ago. This kid has a winning track record and they have a shot, so we'll have to play well."
Bray's original timetable sidelined him for an estimated six weeks, but he created some excitement with a post on his Twitter account Monday night.
"Thumb is feeling a lot better," the sophomore wrote. "Thanks to Vol nation for all your support I'll be back soon maybe sooner than everyone thinks..."
Dooley shot that down Tuesday morning.
"It's going the same as we always thought," he said of Bray's rehab. "I mean, it's really hard to tell because he's in a cast. He's not a doctor, he's a 19-year-old guy, for lack of a word I could use."
Defensive back Byron Moore had just one special-teams tackle in UT's first six games, a major underachievement for the junior college transfer who was considered one of the Vols' most important February signees.
It appears now, though, that the 6-1, 189-pound Moore has taken hold of UT's nickel back spot. The redshirt sophomore played his first significant defensive snaps against Alabama.
"All the hard work I've been doing finally paid off," he said. "The whole situation of being here didn't plan out like I thought it'd be. I just [kept] a straight head, stayed humble, did what I had to do."
For Moore that was dropping weight. The former Southern Cal safety said he's lost 12 pounds since the season began. He's become more comfortable with the system at both nickel back and free safety.
"It was just steady progression, just coming on each day improving, working out, losing the weight, getting down to a good playing weight," Moore said."Think around the bye week time, after the Florida week, was when I started to click. Really got some good one-on-one coaching during that week, so I was able to really focus in on the system and learn the system real well. It made me play faster and faster each day I came out here."
Linebacker Curt Maggitt and tailback/return specialist Devrin Young wore green noncontact jerseys during Tuesday's practice. ... Defensive end Ben Martin and defensive tackle Daniel Hood also were limited.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...