Tennessee QB out at least 4 weeks with hand injury

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee quarterback Nathan Peterman will
miss at least four weeks after undergoing surgery on his right hand.

Peterman injured his hand Saturday while
struggling through his first collegiate start in a 31-17 loss to No. 20
Florida. Peterman went 4 of 11 for 5 yards with two interceptions and
one fumble before being replaced late in the first half by junior Justin
Worley, who had started Tennessee’s first three games.

Peterman’s injury solidifies Worley’s
status as Tennessee’s starting quarterback at least for now. Worley is
atop Tennessee’s depth chart for Saturday’s game with South Alabama,
while freshmen Riley Ferguson and Joshua Dobbs are listed together on
the second team.

“As of right now, Justin Worley is the starter,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said.

Jones said the Vols didn’t know exactly
when Peterman got hurt during the game and added that the redshirt
freshman’s removal wasn’t injury related. Jones said he would have a
more definitive timetable for Peterman’s return later this week.

Worley went 10 of 23 for 149 yards with
one touchdown pass and two interceptions after replacing Peterman at
Florida. He has gone 45 of 80 for 521 yards with six touchdown passes
and three interceptions this season.

Jones had reopened the quarterback
competition last week after Tennessee’s 59-14 loss to No. 2 Oregon and
said he would hand the job to whichever candidate practiced better.
Jones said Worley “took some strides moving forward” when he was pressed
into duty Saturday after losing his starting spot.

“When he got in there, he didn’t feel sorry for himself,” Jones said. “He went in there, and he was leading.”

Worley wasn’t made available for comment Monday.

“It hurts being the starter for the
first three games and knowing I wasn’t doing enough for (the coaches’)
liking, but I knew I had to be in it mentally,” Worley said after the
Florida game. “As a quarterback, or at any position, you’re only one
snap away from being in the game.”

Last week, Jones talked about how his
offense needed to make more big plays. After the Vols committed six
turnovers against Florida, Jones shifted his focus and said his
quarterbacks must avoid creating big plays for the opposition. He
mentioned a play in which Worley attempted to throw the ball out of
bounds and instead had a pass picked off by Jabari Gorman near the
sideline.

“Our quarterbacks can’t make
catastrophic mistakes,” Jones said. “They have to eliminate the
catastrophic plays. … Throw the ball away. Leave no doubt. Sometimes
punt’s the only play. Let’s get to fourth down and play field position.”

Although Ferguson made the trip to
Florida while Dobbs remained in Knoxville, Jones said that doesn’t
indicate either player has an edge in the competition for the
second-team spot. Jones said he would pick the contender who made the
fewest mistakes and showed the best understanding of the offense.

Notes: Jones, who coached Cincinnati
from 2010-12, opened his press conference Monday by saying his “thoughts
and prayers go out to Ben Flick and the entire University of Cincinnati
football family, the University of Cincinnati community.” Flick, a
freshman offensive lineman for Cincinnati, was killed in an auto
accident after the Bearcats’ 14-0 win over Miami of Ohio on Saturday
night. … Jones doesn’t expect linebacker Curt Maggitt to play against
South Alabama. Maggitt still hasn’t played since tearing the anterior
cruciate ligament in his right knee last November. … Defensive end
Marlon Walls said he has contacted Jeff Driskel via Twitter since
providing the hit that caused the Florida quarterback to break a bone in
his lower right leg Saturday. “It was just a bang-bang play,” Walls
said. “I was just out there playing football and not intentionally
trying to hurt anybody.”