Learning again: Vols QB Justin Worley starting over with a new system

Learning again: Vols QB Justin Worley starting over with a new system

April 4th, 2013 by Patrick Brown in Sportscollege

Tennessee quarterbacks Nathan Peterman, left, and Justin Worley warm up during spring football practice at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

Photo by The Knoxville News Sentinel /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE - When Justin Worley learned his first collegiate offense, he was the new face in the meeting room.

The quarterback began his Tennessee career two years ago, when he enrolled early and went through spring practice behind Tyler Bray and Matt Simms, two older quarterbacks with an established knowledge of offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's system.

Worley is now the new guy again, but so is everyone else around him.

"They did help me a lot and teach me," he said after the Volunteers practiced on Tuesday morning, "but because this is all going in at the same time with Nathan [Peterman] and I ... there's definitely more teaching for all of us than just gearing toward one person.

"It's a brand new offensive system, and we've been installing different protections and pass plays just about every day. I'm not totally surprised by that, and I'm enjoying that. I'm glad they're not throwing the whole offense on us in four days and we're out there treading water."

The Vols are taking the schematic side of Butch Jones' maiden spring practice slowly, and it's by design. For Jones and many of his assistant coaches, this is their third time taking over a program together, but there's no singular blueprint to managing the installation of the offensive and defensive playbooks. Jones' previous two stops have illustrated that point.

"When we took over at Cincinnati, we probably installed a little bit too much," Jones recalled. "At Central Michigan we took our time, and at Cincinnati we installed a lot. Here we've taken our time because we've really focused on the style of play which we want to play, the demeanor, the physicality, the tempo.

"You have to graduate from that and move on, and it's the building process. It doesn't help us to go out there and install eight different route packages when we haven't graduated from route package No. 1 and No. 2. Everything is execution, so when our players feel that they have mastered that, we'll move on, and so much of that is technique oriented."

Jones said his team is aware of the sense of urgency needed to make the most of the Vols' remaining spring practices, but many players on both sides of the ball have expressed an appreciation at the pace of the schematic installations, including Worley, who's battling Peterman at quarterback.

"There's definitely more teaching, and there's periods where we'll stop and talk for three or four minutes in a six-minute period," he said. "There's definitely more teaching going on. We haven't installed a whole lot yet, so definitely just being able to understand what we have in is vital.

"It definitely helps going forward as we learn, having an understand of the base plays and different things like that. It helps going forward. That way we can start learning the new things they're putting in each day."

Now what?

The Vols have returned from break, and seven practices, including a couple of scrimmages, remain before the Orange and White Game on April 20.

Defensive end Marlon Walls said the defense's big emphasis for the next 16 days is simply focusing on a couple of details.

"These coaches, they ain't going to let you slip, and that's the reason why we appreciate them," Walls said. "They're going to get in you, and you have to have thick skin. That's what it's going to take to play defense here.

"It ain't the install. We know we've got a lot of great plays. We've just got to narrow our focus and focus on a few things as a defense, and we'll be a better defense if we can get down those things that we're trying to accomplish."

For Ja'Wuan James, the rising senior right tackle who's admittedly making an effort to hone his leadership skills, the goal the rest of spring practice is simpler.

"I just want to keep getting better and keep having fun with it," he said. "It's ball, and this is some of the last practices I'm going to have at Tennessee. We want to get better every day, and we want a good finished product out there for the spring game so we look good."

Payne pledges

Washington D.C. cornerback D'Andre Payne became Tennessee's seventh commitment for the 2014 recruit class via an announcement on Twitter Wednesday morning.

"I just fell in love with the program," the 5-foot-10, 172-pound Friendship Collegiate Academy prospect told the Washington Post. "Coach Jones, he is doing some good things, and he's got some good things in store for the next couple years. It's about to happen."

Payne, who visited Knoxville last month, is rated as a four-star recruit according to 247sports, Rivals and Scout.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.