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Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

Vols' young gun brings the heat

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

(Photo)
T-G Photo by Chris Siers True freshman Justin Worley got the start at QB on Saturday against the MTSU Blue Raiders. Worley piled up 291 yards on 23 completions, including a 47-yard touchdown pass to Da'Rick Rogers.
For pretty much the entire season, the Vols have been bitten by the injury bug. First, the Vols lost of wide receiver wide receiver Justin Hunter in the 33-23 loss to Florida and then the loss of Tyler Bray, who broke his thumb against Georgia.

And for the most part, it's all been downhill from there.

While Bray was still active, the Vols had a functioning offense and were able compete with other top-tiered teams.

But once Bray went down, head coach Derek Dooley turned to senior Matt Simms, who played rather flat in his first two starts.

So far this year, Simms has only amassed 289 total yards passing and thrown three picks and has had no touchdown completions.

When head Dooley was faced with the decision of keeping with Simms, or opting to give true freshman Justin Worley a shot, Dooley went with the latter. After all, things weren't getting any better under Simms' reign.

During Worley's first start in a 14-3 loss to South Carolina, it appeared Tennessee's quarterback woes would continue.

He completed just 10-26 attempts and only piled up 105 total yards.

However, seeing the potential, Dooley gave Worley another chance.

During Saturday's 24-0 romp over MTSU, Worley's performance gave the Vols much-needed momentum and excitement.

Worley completed 23-32 passes for 291 yards, including one touchdown pass to Da'Rick Rogers. But perhaps the biggest stat on Worley's sheet from Saturday was the 0 in the INT column.

Just on the horizon, Worley will face another tough task in Arkansas, which currently sits third behind LSU and Alabama in the SEC West with an 8-1 overall record and a 4-1 record in the SEC.

SEC opponents haven't been kind to Tennessee this year as the Vols are 0-5 in the conference with just three games left on the schedule.

Despite the fact the Vols are still without starter Tyler Bray, there's a chance that Saturday's dominating performance over MTSU was just what the doctor ordered for the ailing Vols'.

There's no question Worley's performance against the Blue Raiders was a confidence booster, but how much remains to be seen.

If Worley can get the necessary protection from the offensive line, there's a chance the young gun can find redemption for the 2011 Volunteer team with an upset win against Arkansas.

Chris Siers is the sports editor for the Times-Gazette. Email him at sports@t-g.com.

Chris Siers
The Extra Point
Chris Siers is sports editor of the Times-Gazette.

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