QBs learn, progress during 2nd scrimmage

InsideTennessee is the place to be during spring practice. The staff has you covered with all the latest info from Tennessee's second scrimmage of the spring.

No bucket was needed Saturday.

In order to simulate throwing and playing with wet footballs, Tennessee managers are often asked to dunk dozens of pigskins into water-filled pails.

Mother nature took care of that as the Vols were greeted by downpours at Neyland Stadium during their second spring scrimmage.

Tennessee coach Butch Jones called it a "tremendous teaching day" for the Vols' four quarterbacks who are still duking it out for the starting spot.

"No matter how hard you try, you can never really simulate playing in the rain in a game," Jones told InsideTennessee. "Today, there were valuable reps in terms of how you take care of the football."

Rising senior Justin Worley feels all four quarterbacks passed the test.

"Offensively, I think we probably had one of our best days," Worley said. "We moved the ball and had some explosive plays. We had some good passes. We all had a good day."

Jones said he was pleased with the quarterback play as a whole, even with ball security – botching handoffs and fumbling snaps – being an issue throughout the scrimmage.

"I see that position overall continuing to get better and better and better," Jones said. "I've really been pleased so far with the play of all four quarterbacks. I'm very, very encouraged."

Each quarterback contributed a mixture of highlights and mistakes during the scrimmage, which Jones said is an illustrations of why each gunslinger has improved "greatly" this spring.

Jones said there is still no clear separation in the race to be named starter, adding that each quarterback has shown flashes at times.

The stalemate in the competition, he said, creates an ultra-competitive environment during games and practices.

"I think we have a great competitive balance and battle going on there," Jones said. "When you have competition at positions, every individual improves. All four of these individuals are improving every day."

Worley agrees.

"I think we've challenged each other so far," he said. "We're all taking it with stride and progressed every day. I think from Day 1, we're all better."

After the first spring scrimmage, Jones said cutting down costly redzone turnovers would be the focus of the quarterbacks heading into the second mock game.

Worley and redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson both tossed turnovers in goal line situations. Worley's came on a play action roll-out inside the 10-yard line. Ferguson forced a throw off his back foot.

Jones took to the loud speaker after Ferguson's interception and yelled at the rookie for several minutes. But Jones called the mistake nothing more than a teaching moment.

"I've seen good things from Riley," Jones said. "I've been pleased."

Of the criteria Jones is looking in deciding on a starter, "playmaking" ability sits near the top of the list.

Ferguson, Jones said, has that covered.

What Jones now needs to see from Ferguson is the ability to manage the offense and avoid "catastrophic" throws while trying to make something happen with his legs.

"One of Riley's strengths is the ability to create plays when there's nothing there," Jones said. "We need a playmaker back there, but we also need an individual who can take care of the football and manage the offense."

On top of the rain, Joshua Dobbs said all four quarterbacks have benefited and learned from being "live" during both scrimmages.

"It's the real deal. It gives you the chance to make plays," Dobbs said. "It's like a real game and we all grow from that. I think our tempo is getting faster because of it. We're just out here having fun."

Decide for yourself which QB had the best game by clicking on the image of Worley blow to be taken to IT's complete notes package from the scrimmage.


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