Worley’s 5 TDs help Vols rout Chattanooga Mocs
Nobody confuses Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley as a dual-threat quarterback capable of taking over a game with his feet.
But with the Vols’ run game struggling for much of the season, fans have wanted to see the senior at least keep a few zone-read keepers to keep defenses honest and give the Vols a little bit of a spark. They got their wish on Saturday. Worley rushed for two touchdowns, threw for three more and led the Vols to a comfortable 45-10 win over in-state foe Chattanooga (3-3) on Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium.
“Just the end collapsing on the zone,” coach Butch Jones said of what he told Worley to look for in the run game. “We don’t need a home run from the quarterback position; we just need four yards. That’s part of managing the game and again he was more aggressive in his thought process.”
“It all goes into our weekly preparation, whether we see we might have a run pull key,” Worley added. “We saw throughout the week that their defensive ends were very aggressive, so we knew we might have some opportunities [to run].”
With negative yardage figured in from five sacks given up, Worley actually ran for -1 yards on the day. Though as Jones said, the Vols (3-3) don’t need the big play on the ground from him, just enough to help the offense. He did that on touchdown runs of 1 and 8 yards that helped UT build an insurmountable lead.
He also found junior receiver Johnathon Johnson for two touchdown passes, the first two of his career. An early 5-yard TD strike to Marquez North, an Aaron Medley field goal and a late rushing score by backup quarterback Nathan Peterman accounted for the rest of UT’s 45 total points.
After holding Florida to just 10 points last week, the defense did its job yet again, holding the Mocs to just one first-half field goal and one late touchdown when many of the reserves were in.
“It felt good,” said freshman defensive end Derek Barnett, who recovered a fumble to set up a touchdown. “On defense we were just flying around the ball, having fun. When we do that, we play good football. Even when we mess up, we run hard to the ball, fly around.”
And while Jones praised the “business-like” approach of his team against an overmatched FCS squad, he also noted the concern over an offensive line that continues to struggle. The Mocs, led by star defensive end Davis Tull, piled up five sacks on the game and held Tennessee’s running backs in check.
With running back Marlin Lane (ankle) out and Jalen Hurd (shoulder) limited, Tennessee leaned heavily on its backups, but nobody found consistent space behind an o-line that got very little push and struggled to regularly protect.
“Sometimes we overset on the pass rush and allow the guy on the inside to penetrate,” Jones said. “We have to trust our technique, so some of it was technique, some of it was getting beat one-on-one and some of it was a different player, so all you can do is get back to work.”
Getting back in the win column is a huge relief for a Tennessee squad that had dropped three straight coming into Saturday. But everybody around the program understands the magnitude of the test the Vols will face next week when they travel to Oxford, Miss., to face an Ole Miss team that is among the hottest squads in the nation.
“We’re 3-3 midway and have been in some very close games,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a mental grind coming up in just staying focused on the process and not letting any outside distractions or clutter kick in and just focus on winning every single moment, every single day.
“The goal of this team has not changed since August: our goal is to be the best possible football team we can possibly be, no more, no less and we’ll continue to work to that.”