Tennessee Volunteers Football: Can Justin Worley Bring Vols a Big Upset?

Daniel BarnesCorrespondent IIIOctober 25, 2011

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 22:  Justin Worley #14 of the Tennessee Volunteers against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Well, the redshirt is burned. I thought it was a bad idea, but Tennessee Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley is obviously feeling pressure to get a big win this season, so I can't blame him entirely for putting QB Justin Worley in last week's game.

When I was watching the Alabama game, I remember being infuriated by Worley's entrance.

Without a redshirt season, Worley will only have one year of eligibility as a player if Tyler Bray decides to stick around for his senior season, which would make Worley likely to pull a Cam Newton and transfer.

On the other hand, I can understand it.

Tennessee has South Carolina visiting them this coming week, and South Carolina is looking far from invincible without Marcus Lattimore. In fact, if Tennessee was 100 percent healthy, the Vols might be favored over South Carolina.

Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, Matt Simms has been inadequate at quarterback. To his credit, he faced what might be the two best defenses in the country, so it's hard to give him much grief.

Still, Dooley believes that Worley gives Tennessee the best chance to win two critical games. But, does the best chance equal a real chance?


South Carolina's quarterback troubles are no secret. Connor Shaw started the season against East Carolina, but he was ineffective and was replaced by Stephen Garcia. Since then, Garcia has been dismissed, and Shaw is now quarterback again.

Shaw has shown some growth, but he's still young and prone to a lot of mistakes.

Alshon Jeffery has been a disappointment this season too. Don't get me wrong, he's still the second-best draft-eligible receiver in the country; it's just that he was supposed to be the next Calvin Johnson.

He's fallen way short of that mark.

That leaves Marcus Lattimore as the centerpiece of South Carolina's offense. If you ask me, Lattimore is the best running back in the country. Better than Trent Richardson, better than Lamar Miller, better than LaMichael James.

However, Lattimore is now out for the season, leaving Carolina vulnerable.

If Justin Worley can perform at a pretty high level (i.e., if he can get the ball to Da'Rick Rogers as much as possible), then Tennessee can score against South Carolina. If the defense keeps playing like it has been in the first half of the last two games, then Tennessee can also stop Carolina from scoring.

After South Carolina, Tennessee hosts one of the worst teams in the country (MTSU) before going on the road to face Arkansas. Before this weekend, I'd say we had no chance in that one, but after Arkansas's performance against Ole Miss, I'm not so sure.

Ole Miss may be the worst team in the SEC. Vanderbilt blew them out, 30-3. Yet this last week, Arkansas had to come from behind on a miracle last play to beat the Rebels.

Now, I did not see the game, just the highlights, but something is very wrong in Arkansas if the Razorbacks almost lost to Ole Miss. Even if they just had that rare off game, it shows that they can be upset by a team worse than Tennessee.

With Worley in the equation, that could give Tennessee a realistic chance. It's an outside chance, but it's better than no chance at all.

Overall, I still think burning the redshirt was a mistake. I think it will either rob Worley of a year as a starter or force him to transfer schools.

However, given the pressure Derek Dooley is feeling to win a big game this year, I understand it. Putting Worley in is the better answer in the short term, I just worry that it will hurt Tennessee in the long run.

But, hey, if it means a win over South Carolina or Arkansas, I'll be satisfied.