Reminiscent of the Vols' week of preparation before the Florida game on Sept. 21, all the talk heading into UT's Saturday contest against Missouri is about who will be under center at 7 p.m. when the Vols take on the No. 9 Tigers.

Unlike the Florida game, this week's battle is due in part to junior signal caller Justin Worley's injured thumb that forced him out of the Alabama game at halftime.

"Could he have gone in the game? Yes," UT coach Butch Jones said Monday. "But we wanted to make sure that we tried to see what it was and not do anything to further the injury itself. So there were a lot of things and a lot of thought process that went behind that.

"Right now he is day-to-day, and we will know more about where he is at later on down the road."

Worley's absence caused true freshman Josh Dobbs to lead the Vols' offense for the entirety of the second half in the 45-10 loss to the Crimson Tide.

The freshman finished the game for the Vols on a high note, putting together two scoring drives – something the offense couldn't muster in the first 30 minutes of play.

"For a young man, a true freshman coming into that environment against that type of opponent, he was poised, he was calm, he was disciplined, he was able to get us in the right plays offensively and he had a command about himself," Jones said. "He walked around to the position groups and he was confident. Now we need to continue to have that with the week of preparation, playing against a great opponent."

The competition, however, won't just be between the two quarterbacks that were under center Saturday.

Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman, who started the game against Florida, got the cast off his right hand prior to the Alabama matchup and could be an option this week if his health is in good standing.

"Nate's cast is off, he is back, and now he is rehabbing the strength and we will see how he progresses," Jones said. "There is a possibility by the end of the week he may be available as well. But you never know with the body and how it heals."

Jones added that freshman Riley Ferguson will be "part of the mix" in this week's practices, but said that he doesn't have a timetable for announcing starter.

"It could go all week," Jones said. "I never put a time frame on anything. It is how they develop. We are going to play the individual who gives us the best opportunity to win on Saturday."

Catastrophe Avoided

When Worley didn't return in the second half against Alabama, the storyline of the game was written in stone.

Overlooked were the injuries of safeties Brian Randolph and Byron Moore that left the back end of the secondary depleted, something that Jones called "catastrophic" in his press conference following the game.

The catastrophic event, however, will not continue into Saturday's contest against Missouri as Moore and Randolph are expected to play.

"Right now, we fully anticipate having Byron Moore back and Brian Randolph back." Jones said.

If the safeties are not able to recover and take the field this weekend, the Vols are preparing to get special teams standout and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin some action in the secondary. Reeves-Maybin was recruited as a safety, but converted to linebacker upon arrival to the program.

"Jalen Reeves-Maybin will go back to getting some repetitions at the safety position," Jones said. "He's a very cerebral young man and intelligent, so that won't be an issue."