Defensive ends Jacques Smith (thumb) and Corey Vereen (knee) and cornerback Riyahd Jones (calf) won't play against Austin Peay. Smith, could return for next Saturday's game against Western Kentucky. Linebacker Curt Maggitt has not yet been ruled out of the opener, and the Vols will make a decision on him by Friday after he practices this week.
KNOXVILLE -- It's not a surprise, but Justin Worley will be Tennessee's starting quarterback when the Volunteers open the season on Saturday against Austin Peay in Knoxville.
First-year coach Butch Jones told the junior from South Carolina on Sunday night, and the depth chart the program released Monday morning confirmed the expected pecking order.
Worley, a three-game starter in 2011 and Tyler Bray's backup last season, took the majority of the first-team reps this preseason and edged out redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman and the freshman duo of Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs.
"It was a very tight race," Jones said at his weekly noon news conference. "I thought all four individuals did a great job. I think they all really advanced their growth and development throughout the entire course of training camp.
"But we just thought Justin was a little bit ahead of the other individuals."
Jones and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian met with each quarterback individually to explain the decision. The decisive factors were Worley's ability to take care of the ball, and his experience played into his performance. Jones would like to see his starter become more vocal and take better command of the offense more consistently.
"I told them everything is judged by your productivity, so we'll continue to really look at that position," Jones said.
The Vols have no plans of rotating quarterbacks, and whether or not Peterman, who won the backup job ahead of the freshmen, plays on Saturday will depend on the flow of the game.
"Any great competitor, you don't ever look back behind you; you keep looking forward and continue to progress and get better and better," Jones said. "Justin's extremely competitive. We don't ever want to create a scenario where they're always looking behind them, but that's the world that we live, that's football, that's competition and we're going to learn how to compete."
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 ...
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