The Tennessee Volunteers received inconsistent play from several positions this season, but perhaps the position that stuck out the most (due to it being the highest profiled position on the field) was quarterback.
Tennessee started three different quarterbacks this season — Justin Worley, Nathan Peterman and Josh Dobbs.
Two of the three had stretches where they looked like the answer — Worley and Dobbs.
Peterman was thrown into a tough situation against Florida, in a game that was just plain ugly. To top it off, Peterman was injured in the game, tearing a ligament in his thumb. No one is even quite sure when the injury occurred against Florida, making it even harder to judge his performance against the Gators.
Worley looked bad at times (most notably against South Alabama) and great at other times (against Georgia and South Carolina).
The same goes for Josh Dobbs.
Dobbs looked incredibly poised — for a true freshman — against Alabama and Missouri (even though the results weren’t there).
Last week against Vanderbilt that same poise was nowhere to be found.
Because of those inconsistencies, the quarterback situation heading into next season is far from settled.
JONES: QB competition is wide open next spring.
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) November 27, 2013
Vol fans certainly don’t want to have to sit through another quarterback battle, but at the same time Josh Dobbs didn’t step up quite enough to separate himself from the others and take the job.
The fan favorite heading into next spring will undoubtedly be Riley Ferguson.
Ferguson, who will be a redshirt freshman, is the “unknown” among Tennessee’s quarterbacks.
It doesn’t matter what level of football you’re talking about, be it professional, college or even high school — the unknown is always the “better” option.
At least until they hit the field.
Sometimes the unknown ends up being the savior. Sometimes they end up being an afterthought. It’s impossible to know until they play in an actual game.
It doesn’t matter how good they look in practice, or how much the coaches talk them up.
It all changes when they’re under the bright lights and in the spot light.
Riley Ferguson would’ve been the quarterback when Justin Worley went down, but circumstances prevented that from happening.
It’s finally public: Ferguson had a stress fracture in his tibia for much of the season, otherwise you would have seen him.
— Football Time in TN (@FootballTimeMag) November 25, 2013
The Tennessee coaching staff definitely preferred Ferguson to Dobbs, but injury prevented Ferguson from being the guy.
That might end up working out better for the Vols in the long run, if Ferguson ends up being “the guy”, since it gave him a year to learn from the sidelines without using a year of eligibility.
One thing is certain — when the Vols hit their stride, the offense won’t much resemble the offense from 2013.
Jones: We’re not anywhere where we need to be in terms of our style of play or our identity on offense.
You saw a little more of what Jones wants the offense to look like under Dobbs, because of his ability to run.
But I believe Ferguson, who’s a very athletic guy himself, could be nearly as effective running the ball as Dobbs.
It’s a long long time until next season. Who knows what will transpire over the next few months, but my gut feeling is telling me that Riley Ferguson is your starting quarterback in 2014.
The fact that Tennessee’s coaching staff preferred Ferguson over Dobbs, combined with Jones’ desire for more “splash plays” (Ferguson has a cannon), leads me to believe that Ferguson may actually be the best fit in this offense.
With Ferguson’s redshirt season out of the way, there’s no reason for the coaching staff to hesitate to give him a chance next season.