After two consecutive weeks of uninspiring play from Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley, the doubts have started to set in from the fan base as to whether or not the junior signal caller is the right man under center.
"It's been challenging at the quarterback position just because we haven't had any big splash plays," head coach Butch Jones said during Monday's press conference. "I'd like to see Justin settle in a little bit more and be a little more aggressive ... We need him to attack more.
"But just like any position at our program, it's open. Whatever quarterback has the best week of practice will be the starter for Tennessee when we play Florida."
The competition at quarterback includes Nathan Peterman – who attempted four passes in Saturday's debacle against Oregon – and true freshmen Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson.
The mobility of Dobbs and Ferguson as well as Jones' willingness to add more quarterback runs into the Vols' packages for this week makes both legitimate contenders to play against the Gators.
"We just need to find a way to generate big, explosive plays," Jones said, "and if that's Josh Dobbs running the read option or Riley Ferguson, that's what we will do, but we have to create big plays and that's going to be a focus in preparation this week."
Flying North for the fall
With the mediocrity of the offense plaguing the Vols heading into a grueling stretch of the schedule where they will play four top 25 SEC opponents in six weeks, UT will need more production from its receiving core, especially in the form of true freshman Marquez North.
North has recorded eight receptions for 69 yards in his three games as a Vol.
"Marquez is going through that transformation of a true freshman," Jones said. "He's extremely talented; he's a 4.4 40 guy, he can run, he's physical, but he's still learning the little nuances of how to create separation and how to release at the line of scrimmage.
Looking ahead to Saturday's game at Florida, Jones said the opportunity for North to prove himself will be available against a loaded Gators defense.
"He's playing against two NFL corners on Saturday that are going to be in his face, pressing him up," Jones said. "I see him getting better and better but that's the luxury that we have. We have to play true freshman and they have to grow up in a hurry."
The Vols lost an integral part of their defense against Oregon when Trevarris Saulsberry injured his knee. Jones stated Monday that the 6-4, 291-pound sophomore defensive lineman will miss the next three to six weeks.
"It puts a lot of pressure on Daniel McCullers, myself, and really all of the defensive lineman because now those are reps that some of the younger guys are going to have to take," senior defensive lineman Daniel Hood said.
Hood added, "It is really just a team effort, and all of us will have to share that burden to pick up our play and intensity in practice."
Junior Gregory Clark was listed as the backup defensive tackle and true freshman Jason Carr was also mentioned as a player who might score reps at the position on Saturday.
The SEC announced that the Vols Sept. 28 home game against the South Alabama Jaguars will kick off at 12:21 p.m. EST and will be televised on SEC TV.