Sounds like the Tennessee Vols have settled on a quarterback as coach Butch Jones announced Thursday senior Justin Worley will start against Utah State when the teams meet on Aug. 31.
Jones said at a press conference Worley was playing the best football of his career and gave the Vols their best chance to win. He beat out Joshua Dobbs and Nathan Peterman for the job.
Like Utah State's Chuckie Keeton, Worley's 2013 season ended early. He was sidelined with a thumb injury in October, finishing his season completing 55.6 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions for 1,239 yards in his seven starts.
So which quarterback do you believe will have greater pressure on him, Keeton or Worley? My thought is Worley. Sure, Keeton will be going into a hostile environment with a team that would love to prove (again) it can not only play but also beat teams from the mighty "Power 5" conferences.
He'll also be determined to show that the past knee injury won't affect him, physically or mentally, in game situations. Then there is the small matter of the Heisman campaign his school is starting. A poor showing in Knoxville could end that campaign even before it really starts.
But Worley's pressure is going to be greater. Tennessee fans no doubt are aching to get back to a higher level of success than they had recently (with three straight 5-7 seasons) and Worley will be the man expected to lead the improvement.
Furthermore, the Vols ranked a meager 111th in the Football Bowl Subdivision teams in passing efficiency last season (191-of-344 passing, 1,979 yds., 12 TDs, 17 INTs) and were 13th out of 14 SEC teams with just 164.9 passing yards per game. That is an embarrassingly low average for a team that prides itself on producing NFL-caliber receivers.
Tennessee fans won't care that Utah State is favored, they are going to want a win and anything short of that is going to turn the heat up fast on Worley's hold on the starting role and on Jones who is in his second year with the team.
No doubt about it, there is going to be a lot of pressure on Worley. He may have won the job, but the prize is going to be tough to handle.
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