Coach Butch Jones says he's close to picking Vols' No. 1 quarterback

Coach Butch Jones says he's close to picking Vols' No. 1 quarterback

August 12th, 2014 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones talks about the upcoming season during a press conference Thursday in Knoxville.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Justin Worley gets ready to pass during the the spring Orange and White game Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster/Times Free Press.

Josh Dobbs

Photo by The Knoxville News Sentinel /Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE - Tennessee could have the answer to one of its primary preseason questions by the end of the week.

The Volunteers began their second week of training camp with two practices Monday, and second-year coach Butch Jones said following the morning session that he's nearing a decision on his starting quarterback.

"I'm going to go back and watch the film [from] this morning a little bit tonight," Jones said, "but I expect, if things go the way they've been going, we'll name a starting quarterback at some point this week."

If that's the case, the choice likely will be senior Justin Worley, who won the job last preseason and started seven games, including the Vols' upset of South Carolina and near-upset of Georgia.

He was lost for the season with a thumb injury against Alabama, and the Vols missed him down the stretch as true freshman Josh Dobbs closed out the season at quarterback. They scored three points at Missouri, 23 with a defensive touchdown against Auburn and 10 in the loss to Vanderbilt that kept the Vols from a bowl game.

After waiting until nearly the end of preseason practice last year, Jones may name a starter more than two weeks before the 2014 season opener against Utah State, but the coach did leave himself some wiggle room.

"I'm not going to set any time frames," Jones said. "If it happens, it happens. There are no deadlines. We have time, but again, I think we're getting closer to a decision in regards to our quarterback position."

Nathan Peterman, who lasted less than a half in his lone start at Florida last season, likely has pushed ahead of Dobbs with the way he's played so far this August. Jones said the redshirt sophomore "took some very important steps" in Saturday night's scrimmage at Neyland Stadium. Dobbs has struggled with his accuracy so far.

Jones's tune regarding the scrimmage following a video review wasn't much different than it was in its immediate aftermath Saturday night.

"[It's] about what I thought walking off the field," he said. "I thought each position group made strides, some more than others, but I thought as a football team we gained some confidence. We had some individuals step up and make some big plays. We scrimmaged live special teams as well.

"We're also trying to define roles for everyone in this football program. That's been the message to our team, is the sense of urgency. We have individuals fighting for positions on this football team, and not just offensively and defensively, but in the special teams game as well."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.